DELMAR — Delmar Police Cpl. Keith Heacook was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon from the serious injuries he received early Sunday in the line of duty, Delmar Police Chief Ivan Barkley said during an evening news conference.
“Our community, my department, his family, we all mourn,” Chief Barkley said.
The 22-year veteran of the Delmar Police Department remains on life support in a Baltimore hospital as his family has decided to donate his organs, Chief Barkley said.
Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced in the next few days, he said.
Heacook, 54, was critically injured after being involved in a physical altercation after responding to an incident at a home in north Delmar on Sunday morning, according to Delaware State Police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier.
Randon D. Wilkerson, 30, of Delmar, was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder, second-degree assault (two counts), possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony (two counts), first-degree burglary, third-degree assault and terroristic threatening.
Speaking in Delmar this evening, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said the charges against Wilkerson will be upgraded to murder.
"Mark my words, he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Ms. Jennings. "We have been working together with the Delmar Police Department and the Delaware State Police and are doing everything in our power to ensure a successful prosecution.
"Tomorrow, with clear eyes, we move forward in the pursuit of justice," Ms. Jennings said.
Officers from other law enforcement agencies were on hand Wednesday evening.
"We are not just here tonight to speak about this senseless evil that has stolen Keith Heacook from us. We are here to remember a father and husband, a veteran of Delmar’s Police Department and a brother in Delaware’s law enforcement," Ms. Jennings said. "We are here to mourn the loss of a man who devoted his entire career to the selfless call of serving the rest of us.”
Ms. Jennings added, "We are here to acknowledge law enforcement across this state, who willingly face dangers each and every day so that all the rest of us don’t have to. Tonight, we wrap our arms around a community and a family and hold them in support and prayer."
The incident in which Heacook was injured began at approximately 5:12 a.m. Sunday, when the Delmar Police Department was dispatched to the 11000 block of Buckingham Drive in the Yorkshire Estates Community for a report of a fight in progress.
The 9-1-1 caller reported one of the occupants, who was later identified as Wilkerson, was being disorderly, fighting with other residents of the house, and destroying items inside the residence.
Moments later, police said a separate 9-1-1 call was received from a neighbor across the street from the original caller, stating he and his wife had been assaulted by a male subject. The caller then stated the assailant was no longer at his house.
The investigation revealed that Wilkerson knocked on the back door of the residence and was met by 73-year-old Steve Franklin, who was then assaulted as Wilkerson entered the house and then struck him numerous times with a glass object. Wilkerson then repeatedly assaulted a 76-year-old Judy Franklin with the same object before fleeing the house, police said.
Both Franklins sustained significant injury and were transported by ambulance to area hospitals. Mrs. Franklin was later transported to Shock Trauma in Baltimore. They are now at home recovering from their injuries, Fournier said Wednesday.
Wilkerson was seen by the allied police agencies walking on the rear of the property of the first 9-1-1 call and was taken into custody without incident. He was transported to Troop 5 in Bridgeville and charged with the following attempted murder, first degree; two accounts of first-degree assault; two counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony; first-degree burglary; third-degree assault; and terroristic threatening.
He was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 3 and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $451,000 cash bond.
Glenn Rolfe contributed to this report.