Delaware state trooper dies after being shot in convenience store parking lot

PHOTO: Delaware area schools are on lockdown as police continue the search for a suspect involved in a state trooper shooting, April 26, 2017.PlayWPVI
WATCH A dangerous standoff after a Delaware state trooper is shot in the line of duty

A Delaware state trooper has died after he was shot in the parking lot of a Wawa convenience store, according to Delaware State Police.

At around 10 a.m. this morning, the trooper had observed a vehicle in the parking lot, and when he made contact with its occupants, a struggle ensued, police said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

One of the two suspects then exited the vehicle and fired several rounds at the trooper, striking him, police said. The trooper was treated at the scene and transported to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, police said.

Police on Wednesday night identified the trooper as Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, 32, and eight-and-a-half-year veteran of the Delaware State Police.

One of the suspects was taken into custody without incident, police said. The second suspect fled on foot before additional troopers arrived.

That suspect has since barricaded himself in his home on St. Michaels Drive in the Brick Mill Farm development, firing rounds at police officers, a spokesperson for the Delaware State Police told reporters. The suspect has refused orders to surrender while continuing to fire at police officers, the spokesperson said.

Hostage negotiators are on the scene trying to get information from the suspect and obtain a "peaceful resolution," police said. The suspect's family is not home at this time.

Police know who the suspect is but have not yet released his identity, the spokesperson said. It is not clear what kind of firearm the suspect was using to shoot at police.

Several residents in the area have been evacuated due to the gunfire. The Appoquinimink School District in the Middletown, Delaware, area was on lockdown amid the search for the suspect, police said.

The investigation is in its early stages and the exact circumstance of the shooting is unknown.

Delaware Governor John Carney said in a statement, "My heart is with Corporal Ballard's family and the officers who have served beside him. Delaware's law enforcement officers go to work every day knowing they put their lives on the line to protect ours."

Carney also ordered both the U.S. and Delaware State flags to be flown at half-staff in memory of Ballard.