Police shot and killed a suspect wanted in the fatal shooting of Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard on Thursday morning, ending a 19½-hour standoff that rocked a quiet neighborhood in Middletown, New Castle County, with gunfire and tactical explosions.
The suspect was identified as Burgon Sealy Jr., 26, who had barricaded himself inside his family's house. His parents were on vacation, according to neighbors.
At a Thursday afternoon news conference, State Police Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. gave this account of what happened, starting shortly after noon Wednesday at a Wawa store on Pulaski Highway in Bear, about 15 miles north of Middletown:
Ballard, 32 and an eight-year veteran of the state police, approached a red Dodge Charger in the parking lot after he observed what he thought was suspicious activity.
The men in the driver's and front passenger seats provided Ballard, who was in uniform, with their identification. Ballard then went to the passenger side and asked that man to get out. Sealy stepped out of the vehicle and got into a struggle with Ballard, then began firing at the trooper, McQueen said.
Ballard, married and the father of a 5-year-old daughter, tried to run away, but Sealy pursued him and continued firing at him, striking him in the upper body, McQueen said. Even after Ballard fell to the ground, Sealy fired several close-range shots at him.
Sealy, who had arrived at the store in a gray Honda, then drove away in his car, McQueen said.
He said Sealy then contacted family members and confessed to shooting a trooper. His family then contacted police.
Soon afterward, about 2 p.m., law-enforcement agents went to the home in the Brick Mills Farm development, where Sealy fired multiple rounds at police, McQueen said.
After a night during which law-enforcement authorities used explosives to open the front door, also shattering windows, but not entering the house, and a tense standoff ensued, during which police tried to make contact with Sealy, the suspect fired numerous rounds from within the home about 4 a.m. Thursday, McQueen said. No one was hit.
Then, at 9:17 a.m. Thursday, Sealy exited the house with weapons "and engaged officers," McQueen said. Law-enforcement authorities shot him, and he was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:29.
Asked by a reporter if Sealy fired at officers when he left the house, McQueen said that remained under investigation. He declined to elaborate on the type of weapons Sealy had when he came out.
Asked if the suspicious activity Ballard had observed was drug-related, McQueen said that was also under investigation.
This is what the house looked like after the standoff ended.
The driver of the Charger remained in the Wawa parking lot after Ballard was shot, and was taken into custody by responding officers and was later released.
That man was determined to not have been involved in the fatal shooting, police said, but the "investigation into that other suspect [stemming from the initial inquiry] is ongoing," McQueen said.
Ballard was taken to Christiana Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon.
McQueen and other officials who spoke at Thursday's news conference were at times caught up in the emotion of Ballard's death, pausing before they could continue speaking.
Gov. John Carney thanked the State Police and other law-enforcement agents for the work they do every day in protecting people, and the residents in the Middletown neighborhood for their patience.
"I stand before you with an aching heart," he said.