The Delaware State Police confirmed that an 85-year-old woman and an 86-year-old male husband and wife from Elkton were the victims of a shooting that took place earlie Friday on the grounds of the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, located at 2465 Chesapeake City Rd., Bear.
At 10:13 a.m., Friday, troopers were dispatched to the cemetery for a report of shots being fired.
Officers located the victims and confirmed that they both had suffered gunshot wounds. The female victim was pronounced deceased at the scene, the male was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. Initial reports from the scene also advised that a subject had been seen running into an adjacent wooded area immediately after the gunshots were heard.
At approximately 11:08 a.m., officers on the scene saw a man running into a wooded area, between the cemetery and Brennan Blvd., in the development of Brennan Estates. Officers secured the area where the subject was observed.
At approximately 12:08 p.m., an exchange of gunfire took place between officers on the scene and the suspect in the wooded area. During the exchange, no law enforcement officers were injured.
At about 4 p.m., officers made went to the wooded area where they located the suspect who was confirmed to be deceased. They also observed that the suspect, a 29-year-old Middletown man, had sustained an apparent gunshot wound. It is undetermined at this time if the gunshot wound was self-inflicted or as a result of the earlier exchange of gunfire.
The Delaware Division of Forensic Science will perform autopsies to determine the cause and manner ofthe deaths.
During the course of the incident, communication had been made with area residents via a reverse 911 call, and advised to shelter in place. Some residents who were in close proximity to the incident were temporarily evacuated. Multiple area roadways were also closed during the operation.
Residents were returned home and police were on the scene as part of the ongoing investigation.
While the Delaware State Police are the primary investigating agency, during today’s operation they received assistance from multiple allied agencies from the federal, state and local levels, who provided manpower and resources, to include the ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals, DNREC, New Castle County Police, Wilmington Police., Dover Police., Newark Police., N.C.C. EMS and DelDOT
The investigation is active and ongoing and will be furthered by the Delaware State Police Homicide Unit. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact Det. M. Ryde by calling 302-698-8557. The name of the suspect was not identified
The cemetery is overseen by the Delaware Office of Veterans Services, a division of the Department of State.
Twelve employees were working at the cemetery at the time of the incident, all of whom sheltered in a building on-site and were unharmed. Police released all employees from the cemetery at about 3:30 p.m.
A memorial service had taken place at the cemetery chapel shortly before the incident. All participants in the service had left the cemetery and there were no other visitors on the grounds.
“Today, a moment of tragedy shattered the peaceful atmosphere of the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery. We are deeply sorry for the families and loved ones of the victims,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “We are thankful for the quick thinking and actions of our cemetery staff and the Delaware State Police, and grateful that no one else was hurt in this dangerous situation.”