DOVER — As of Thursday evening police had yet to identify a person who was fatally shot earlier in the day during an apartment complex incident that began at 9:42 a.m., according to the Dover Police Department.
The investigation continued through the evening.
The incident at Pine Grove Apartments on Webbs Lane left residents solemn and shaken; at least twice, women began shrieking and crying as information on the incident spread.
“No, no, no, no, no,” said a hysterical woman between sobs as she was consoled at 11:40 a.m.
“Oh my God, no, no, no, no ...”
At 11:54 a.m., the victim’s body, encased in a gray bag, was removed from the parking lot of Building D of Pine Grove Apartments and placed in the medical examiner’s truck.
Earlier the body was hidden from view by a blue tarp as a number of distraught people who appeared to know or be related to the victim gathered.
One man asked the media to respect the family’s privacy. Several other bystanders declined to answer questions.
“Respect my family, please put those cameras down,” a man said when walking by a photographer.
Some three dozen people, apparently from the neighborhood, were milling about but traffic seemed to be flowing unhindered on Webbs Lane and on the streets surrounding the apartment complex.
A large contingent of Dover Police and Delaware State Police personnel worked the scene, and deputy attorneys general also arrived soon after the incident was reported.
At 12:28 p.m., a tow truck hauled two vehicles away under the direction of Dover Police. One white colored vehicle had a red substance splattered outside on the passenger’s front door.
Shonda Miller, a two-year resident at Pine Grove, said she was at work when she learned of the shooting, and rushed home to check on her children’s welfare at nearby W. Reily Brown Elementary School.
“My first thought was to get to the kids,” she said.
Students and staff at W. Reily Brown went into an immediate lockdown when a large police presence was observed in the nearby neighborhood, according to Ron Gough, community relations specialist for Caesar Rodney School District.
Late Thursday afternoon, the CR School District issued a statement from Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald that noted an afternoon lockdown at Star Hill Elementary School:
“Earlier this morning, W. Reily Brown Elementary School went into an immediate lockdown as directed by the Dover Police Department, due to an ongoing criminal investigation,” Dr. Fitzgerald said.
“The staff and students quickly responded and within one minute, the building was secured with no one allowed in or out of the school. The Caesar Rodney School District also notified all other schools to heighten security and all students were kept in their buildings.
“Later this afternoon, Delaware State Police notified officials at Star Hill Elementary School to lockdown as a result of police activity near the school. Again, staff secured the school and any remaining students were safely moved to designated areas.
“I want to thank the Dover Police Department and the Delaware State Police for their constant communication with our district. I also want to commend the staff of both schools for reacting swiftly and professionally in ensuring that all of our children remained safe during today’s event.”
Concerns of violence
Charles Mason, of Magnolia, said he arrived with his mother to check on his student brother’s status.
“When I heard about it, my first thought was ‘Oh, (expletive),” he said.
Ms. Miller said she’s seen plenty of violence in the apartment complex and wants to move out when possible.
“You might hear shotguns every now and then, and people are outside fighting all the time,” she said. “We just want to get our kids out of here.
“This is definitely not a safe place.”
Rachel Stevenson, a six-year Pine Grove resident, concurred when asked if she felt safe, replying, “No I don’t. I don’t feel safe here, no I don’t. No.”
Following W. Reily Brown’s lockdown, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Scott Lykens contacted all Caesar Rodney schools (except George Welch Elementary and Dover Air Base Middle Schools) to cancel all outside activities and maintain heightened awareness since law enforcement still was searching the surrounding area.
The lockdown was lifted at 10:47 a.m. according to Caesar Rodney District’s Facebook page. Shortly after, Dover police tweeted it was certain the suspect was no longer in the Webbs Lane area. Dover officers and Delaware State Police troopers initially searched in the vicinity for a possible suspect.
As the investigation began, police urged for avoiding travel in the area of Webbs Lane between Governors Avenue and New Burton Road.
Managing editor Andrew West and staff writer Eleanor La Prade contributed to this story.