A New Castle County, Delaware police sergeant fought for his life before being stabbed to death early last Friday morning, according to newly-released court documents.
Sergeant Joseph Szczerba died while investigating a reported car break-in in the community of Penn Acres. The affidavit of probable cause unsealed in the past day by the Justice of the Peace Court contains new details on the deadly encounter.
The affidavit indicates that Szczerba was outside of his patrol car on East Roosevelt Avenue and Fithian Way questioning a suspect when the suspect fled on foot, according to a witness account. The officer caught the man nearby, and was stabbed during a violent struggle.
Szczerba managed to radio a message to police communications headquarters to the effect of, “I’ve been stabbed.”
Other officers arrived on the scene. Some continued struggling with the suspect as others tried to assist Szczerba, who had deep wounds to his neck.
Szczerba was rushed to Christiana Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
A detective found a fixed-blade knife about five inches long at the crime scene. Blood was on the weapon.
The suspect, later identified as 32-year-old David Salasky, was treated at Christiana Hospital for cuts and bruises to his head, face and other parts of his body. Police also said over the weekend that Salasky had undergone treatment at the hospital for “a medical condition unrelated to his arrest.”
After being released from the hospital Sunday, Salasky was charged with murder and possession of a deadly weapon during a felony. He is being held without bail at Wilmington’s Howard Young Prison.
Salasky also had a previous criminal history. He was on probation at the time of his arrest for a conviction in an arson scam in which he allegedly conspired to have his car set on fire to collect insurance.
Szczerba served on the New Castle County police force for 18 years. He was 44 years old. His funeral will be held this Friday at 9:00 a.m. at the Chase Center on the Wilmington riverfront. Szczerba was the first police officer killed in the line of duty in New Castle County in nearly 40 years.