On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, Corporal Stephen J. Ballard, 32, an officer with the Delaware State Police, was killed in the line of duty in the parking lot of a Wawa in Bear, DE. Corporal Ballard worked out of Delaware State Police Troop 2 in Newark where he had just transferred from Troop 4 in Camden. While working at Troop 4, he often assisted Milford Police Department with cases.
“He was well-respected and well-liked,” Lt. David Wells of Milford Police Department said. “We worked with him often on cases when he was assigned to this area. We are deeply saddened at his loss.”
According to Delaware State Police, Cpl. Ballard was investigating a suspicious vehicle in the Wawa parking lot. The vehicle had been there for an extended period with two men sitting inside. Cpl. Ballard was driving a marked police car and was in uniform when he pulled in behind the vehicle. He approached the car and a struggle ensued between Cpl. Ballard and Burgon Sealy, Jr., who was inside the vehicle.
“Mr. Sealy pulled a handgun from his waistband and began firing at the officer who tried to take cover behind a parked vehicle,” Corporal Nathaniel McQueen, of the Delaware State Police Public Relations Department, said at a press conference. “Mr. Sealy pursued Cpl. Ballard, striking him in the upper body. Cpl. Ballard immediately went to the ground, the suspect then fired multiple rounds at close range, again striking him in the upper body,”
Mr. Sealy fled the scene of the shooting in a gray Honda while the other man in the car, who has not been identified, was taken into custody at the scene. According to police, he was questioned and released. Mr. Sealy was tracked to his father’s home in the Brick Mill Farm section of Middletown where he barricaded himself inside. Throughout the night, he fired at police as they tried to negotiate a surrender. At around 9 AM, police approached the home with an armored bulldozer and Mr. Sealy exited the home firing his gun. Police returned fire, killing Mr. Sealy.
Witnesses said that customers and employees at the Wawa location performed CPR on the officer until rescue workers arrived. He was transported to Christiana Hospital where he later died of his injuries. Social media filled with condolences for his family, friends and co-workers
“My former neighbor at Hearthstone, Delaware State Police Corporal Stephen Ballard, died yesterday in a senseless line-of-duty shooting,” April Allyson Abel posted on Facebook along with a photo of Cpl. Ballard and his wife at their wedding. “His radiant smile and integrity are my favorite memories of him. My prayers are with his family and fellow officers.” Elizabeth Gilbert commented on the post that Cpl. Ballard was “such a nice young man.”
Duck-In Car Wash posted that they wanted to express their deepest sympathy to the family. “Officer Ballard was a great customer who always represented the state police with class and character,” the post read. “Prayers go out to his family as well as his brothers and sisters in uniform. Take a moment today to thank an officer for the sacrifices they make for us each and every day.” Eric Rager commented on the post that the last time he saw Cpl. Ballard, the two were “b.s.ing” about life in the lobby of Duck-In waiting for his vehicle and Mr. Rager’s Jeep to be washed, stating that Cpl. Ballard was a “great guy.”
Cpl. Ballard had been a member of the Delaware State Police for over eight years. He and his wife, Louise were married in January of 2016 and he has a daughter. Cpl. Ballard was a native of Bowie, Maryland, and graduated from Delaware State University. He was a mentor to students who were in the Criminal Justice program at the college. He and his family had recently moved to Hockessin from Milford.
A memorial fund has been established at the Delaware State Police Federal Credit Union in the name of Corporal Ballard and all proceeds will be given to his family. Checks can be made out to the DSTA- Stephen Ballard Memorial Fund, PO Box 168, Cheswold DE 19936. This is the only official memorial fund dedicated in the name of Cpl/1 Stephen Ballard. For any questions please contact the Delaware State Troopers Association at 302-736-9958.
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