Wednesday’s fatal shooting of a Delaware State Police trooper outside a Bear Wawa is the first trooper killed by gunfire since 1972.
“It’s a sad day for the Delaware State Police family,” said State Police Superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen Wednesday afternoon as he announced the death of the State Police trooper. Wednesday’s shooting represents the 19th line of duty death among the Delaware State Police, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Before this week, the last incident of gunfire to claim the life of a State Police trooper happened in more than 40 years ago. In January 1972, two troopers were shot and killed in Pennsylvania. According to ODMP.org, a female accomplice of a suspect the troopers were struggling with shot both Trooper David Yarrington and Trooper Ronald Carey. Carey had been with the State Police for two years, six months, while Yarrington had been with the State Police just three years.
The only other State Police trooper killed by gunfire was Trooper Robert Paris. In October 1963, Paris was shot and killed after finding two men stealing TVs from a hotel.
The most recent State Police trooper killed in the line of duty was Corp. Christopher Shea in July 2004. Shea was killed when his patrol car was hit head on by a drunk driver on Route 1 near Milford. The drunk driver, who was fleeing another accident he was involved in, was also killed.
Delaware’s law enforcement community is still morning the loss of Dept. of Correction Lt. Steven Floyd who was killed in February by inmates at Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. A State Police investigation into Floyd’s death is still ongoing.
In September 2011, New Castle County Police Lt. Joseph Szczerba was stabbed to death by man high on bath salts. Szczerba had been helping other officers search for a disorderly man near Penn Acres Park when he was attacked and killed. His attacker, David Salasky pled guilty but mentally ill to first degree murder. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus 157 years. The New Castle County Police Academy building has been renamed in honor of Lt. Szczerba.
In 2009, Georgetown Police Officer Chad Spicer was shot and killed while responding to a shooting that resulted from a drug deal gone bad in front of a McDonald’s restaurant. Spicer and his partner pulled over a car involved in the earlier incident, but before he could get out of the car, Spicer was shot by Derrick Powell. Powell was sentenced to death, but that sentence has now become central to a legal fight against Delaware’s death penalty.