DOVER — A 19-year-old Dover man died and three other city residents were injured in a shooting in the 100 block of South New Street late Wednesday, Dover police said.
Tysean Nelson was pronounced dead after being found in a vacant lot near the scene of the incident, which occurred at approximately 11:08 p.m., according to spokesman Sgt. Mark Hoffman.
At least 46 shots were fired based on shell casings located at the scene, according to police.
No motive had been established “at this time,” Sgt. Hoffman said just before 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Also, police said they could not disclose details on how many firearms they believe may have been involved.
No arrests had been announced in connection with the shooting as of Thursday morning. No information on any suspect or suspects was publicly available, police said.
Officers arrived at the scene within 40 seconds of shots being fired and began providing medical assistance to multiple wounded victims.
Two wounded men, ages 39 and 22, were transported via ambulance to Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus, in Dover for treatment, while a 40-year-old woman drove herself to the hospital. All had been struck by gunfire, police said.
The victims were currently undergoing treatment or had been released from the hospital, authorities said Thursday morning.
According to Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen, who oversees the police department, the agency’s Street Crimes Unit “had been in the area making contact with probably some of the very folks that were probably involved in this shooting."
“We are pretty much sure that they know who the person is who did this.”
Following the shooting, large crowds began to gather near the scene, and law enforcement officers from nearby jurisdictions — Camden, Wyoming, Capitol and Delaware State Police — arrived to assist Dover officers with crowd management, Sgt. Hoffman said.
Police said the scene was cleared after 5 a.m. Thursday.
South New Street from Reed to Loockerman streets was closed as the investigation commenced and evidence was gathered. The roads were later reopened, but “there may still be some police activity in the area,” Sgt. Hoffman said Thursday morning.
Additionally, a nearby vehicle was struck by gunfire, and police were unsure if other property had been damaged, he added.
Authorities said the shooting was not connected to a rally supporting Second Amendment rights at Legislative Hall in Dover on Wednesday.
The investigation continues, and police asked anyone with information to call 736-7111. Callers may remain anonymous. Tips may also be submitted to law enforcement through Delaware Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333 or here; a cash reward is possible for information leading to an arrest.
Wednesday night’s incident continued a recent surge of gun violence in Dover. Police have reported nine shootings in the city since June 16. Eight persons died or were injured in those nine shootings.
Furthermore, a man was shot to death June 9, and another was wounded by gunfire June 3, police said.
In response to the recent shootings, Mayor Christiansen said, “We currently have our Street Crimes Unit on the street. We’ve put foot patrols out to work in the neighborhoods. We’ve got this mobile command station that people demanded that we’re trying to utilize as a tool, and we have a lot of other strategies, partnerships and collaborations with other police agencies in Delaware, but our success is (not) going to be based (solely) on my outrage and outrage of the City Council and due diligence of the men and women of the Dover Police Department. Communities have to join with us in this partnership and show some outrage as to what is going on.”
City Councilman David Anderson described the shooting spree as “tragic."
“It is not a Dover problem. We see it statewide. We see high double- and triple-digit percentage increases in some cities. In Dover, crime is going down back to pre-pandemic levels. Why? Because we started down the right path. Unfortunately, it is a journey, and it is going to take years to reverse the deeper problems completely.”
Said Councilman Fred Neil, “As for the current cluster of shootings, I don’t think Dover is alone. My guess is, and it is a guess and not a scientific observation, people bent on ill intent are seeing freedom from the pandemic, and good weather (is) an opportunity to settle scores, real or imagined. Opportunity is back for bad guys, too.
“What I am very proud of is the continued high closure rate of what I consider an outstanding Dover police force that really cares about the well-being of the community. Even if we could have a police state, unless the societal ills are rectified, evil intent will prevail. My advice is, ‘If you see something, say something.'"
The Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige, Social Action Committee chair of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, said she’s alarmed by the seeming randomness associated with the recent outbreak of shootings. The lack of an arrest(s), information on potential suspects or motive in the most recent gunfire incident was troubling, as well, she said.
“My main concern is for the safety of the people, especially for the children who are out during all parts of the day,” she said.
“Folks could be out socializing or doing whatever they may be doing and, suddenly, find themselves in a dangerous situation. There’s just no telling when something may happen and that’s an extremely scary thing. ”
In January, City Council President Roy Sudler Jr. noted that of the 32 people who were shot in Dover in 2020, almost a third of them, 10, were struck by gunfire in the four-block area surrounding South New and West Reed streets. Additionally, a woman was shot in the leg in the 100 block of South New Street on May 9, 2021.
According to Mayor Christiansen, “We are doing everything we can to find out why (South New Street) is a draw for criminal activity.
“A lot of this is gang activity that emanates from there. ... We are going to hunker down again and put more effort into that area, and these folks just need to realize that they’re not going to win. In the end, they are going to be the losers.”
Regarding the recent surge in gun crimes, the mayor said he believes that a past crackdown on gang activity that led to a wave of prison terms for defendants may be fueling at least part of the violence.
“At the time they were put away, and now, they’re just starting to come back on the street,” he said. “This relates back to crimes that may have been committed as much as two or three years ago, and it has the appearance that people may be taking revenge on people that either dropped a dime on them, crossed their turf while they were in prison or whatever it is. A mass exodus of folks (incarcerated) over the last couple years has just occurred over the last few weeks.”
About the justice system in Delaware, the mayor said, “I want to see that people we take off the streets get the maximum bail, so that they don’t come back on the street, and when they’re prosecuted and they have a gun during the commission of any of these felonies or they’re within 50 feet of a gun, they’re put away.
“I don’t care if they’re White, green, Black, purple or orange, they are a detriment to the public safety, the city of Dover, Kent County and the state of Delaware. This is happening all across our country, and people need to realize that people are not being arrested because of the color of their skin. They’re being arrested for the crimes they’re committing in the communities and putting everyone in jeopardy.”
While Mayor Christiansen said he’s responsible for overseeing the safety of the city, “I’m also charged with the responsibility of providing economic opportunities for some of the very young folks who are being affected by the violence.
“If I can’t bring jobs here because the city is not safe, I have failed not only the people who are law-abiding citizens in the city, but young folks who have the potential to have decent-paying jobs, the American dream, but are taken out early in their life and never have that opportunity.
He added, “People aren’t going to want to come here as tourists, as future residents or employers if I don’t have a safe city.”