On Friday, students from Keene Elementary School came together to honor Delaware State Police Trooper Cpl. Stephen Ballard who was killed in the line of duty this week.
There were about 700 students, faculty and parents lined up in unison with flowers and hand-written cards.
“I have a fourth grader here and I’m a Marine Corps wife, so it definitely touches me very much,” said Christine McCarl, who helped organize the memorial.
The school is just walking distance and located directly behind the police station. Delaware and Maryland State police officers were lined up as well to greet students, giving each of them a handshake. The diverse group of students ranging from Kindergartners to 5th graders all decorated a make-shift memorial near Ballard’s vehicle. It was parked outside Delaware State Police Troop 2, where Ballard was stationed and affectionately known.
“I hope they take away that this is our community. We are a community together and we need to do what’s best for everyone,” said Mariellen Taraboletti, the principal of Keene of Elementary School.
Ballard, an 8-year-veteran was killed on Wednesday after approaching two men parked outside the WaWa in Bear. Police said the men were sitting inside a Dodge Charger that had been parked for hours. According to investigators, Ballard addressed both the driver and passenger, Burgon Sealy Jr. However, things quickly escalated when Ballard asked Sealy to step outside the car. The two then got into a struggle and Sealy who was carrying a gun fatally shot Ballard.
Over the years, students developed a positive relationship with their fellow neighbors who dedicate their lives to serve and protect.
“The officers come over often. They have conversations with the kids. The kids looked to them as role models,” Taraboletti said.