Delaware trooper’s suspected killer surrounded in home hours after shooting

The suspect in a fatal shooting of a Delaware state trooper remained barricaded inside his home Thursday morning, and officials were using explosives to breach multiple entry points into the residence but hadn’t gone inside.

Police said the suspected gunman fired at officers who were outside his home around 4 a.m. It was not known what type of weapon he was using. There were no reported injuries and nearby residents had already been evacuated.

Authorities have identified the suspect but haven’t publicly named him.

“Multiple Special Operations Response Teams and Conflict Management Teams from allied police agencies are attempting to make contact with the male subject and are continuing to attempt to persuade him to surrender,” Master Corporal Gary Fournier said in a statement.

The standoff occurred after the suspect is believed to have gunned down a state trooper in a Wawa parking lot.

Delaware State Police Superintendent Nathaniel McQueen said the trooper approached a “suspicious vehicle” with two men inside. McQueen said a struggle ensued and the trooper was shot multiple times by one of the men, who then fled the scene. The second man was arrested at the scene of the shooting. 

One witness, Clarence Travers, told The News Journal of Wilmington that he heard gunfire while sitting at a red light and saw a police officer fall to the ground. After the initial gunfire, Travers said he saw a man get out of a car and shoot the officer on the ground multiple times before getting away.

Police have not corroborated Travers’ version of events.

The trooper was identified late Wednesday as Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, 32. He had been on the force for more than eight years, according to state police spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz.

“This is a sad day for our state and for the Delaware State Police family,” McQueen said, with Gov. John Carney at his side.

“My heart is with the officer’s family and the officers who have served beside him,” Carney, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Police tracked the gunman to his home in a subdivision of two-story houses in Middletown, about 15 miles south of where the trooper was shot.

Sarah Adkins, 18, who lives with her parents on the same street where the suspect was barricaded, said that shortly after arriving home early Thursday afternoon, she started hearing sporadic gunfire that lasted for about an hour and resumed at other intervals.

“It’s been scary,” said Adkins, who was told by police to go to her basement and stay there.

Adkins said the man believed to be the suspect went to school with her brothers, and has always seemed friendly, smiling and waving at her when she last saw him a couple of weeks ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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