MIDDLETOWN, Del. (WTXF) - Delaware State Police Corporal Stephen J. Ballard was a husband, a father, and a hero.
On Wednesday, April 26, Corporal Ballard was killed in the line of duty while serving the citizens of Delaware. Corporal Ballard, 32, was an eight-year veteran. He leaves behind his wife Louise and 5-year-old daughter.
Tonight, the man believed to have shot and killed Corporal Ballard and then barricaded himself inside a Middletown, Delaware home, is dead.
The suspect was killed Thursday morning in a shoot out with police outside a home he had barricaded himself inside for nearly 20 hours, repeatedly firing shots at police and keeping a neighborhood in lockdown.
Corporal Ballard's cruiser now sits in front of Troop 2, Glasgow, his home base. His hat rests on its hood, along with a flower.
Just after noon, in a Wawa parking lot located in Bear, Del., Ballard approached a red Dodge Charger that appeared suspicious. Two men were in the vehicle.
Ballard asked 26-year-old Burgon Sealy Jr. to get out of the passenger side. Sealy exited the vehicle. After a struggle between Sealy and Ballard, Sealy pulled a handgun and fired.
Trooper Ballard attempted to run for cover behind a parked car. The suspect chased Ballard, shooting him multiple times in his upper body.
Sealy fled in a grey Honda, calling his family to tell them of his crime. Sealy then drove to his family's home in suburban Middletown.
Sealy's family immediately alerted police, who spent the night using explosives to gain entry into the house.
Sealy fired at police. Military style copters arrived, as did men in military gear.
Just after 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sealy--with a criminal history in Florida--emerged from the house with a weapon in hand. The suspect was then shot dead by police.
Neighbors in Middletown returned home shortly after, while police remembered their dedicated colleague with a megawatt smile.
The murder of Corporal Ballard has hit members of the community hard.
A tribute is growing outside the Wawa where Ballard he was gunned down. Dozens of people have visited the site, leaving flowers, messages and mementos--all outlined in a banner of American flags and a heart.
While community members may not have known the corporal personally, all of them tell Fox 29 they are equally saddened by his death.
"He was out here protecting our neighborhood," said Thaddious Thomas of Bear, Del. "It just hits so close to home. I just wanted to come out and show a little support."
"He's another human being trying to keep us safe in the state of Delaware," said Angelo Menefee of Newark, Del.
Witnesses tell Fox 29 it was Wawa customers who jumped in to help save Corporal Ballard.
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 Corporal Stephen Ballard. For any questions please contact the Delaware State Troopers Association at 302-736-9958.
Homicide Unit detectives continue to investigate this case. They are asking anyone who may have witnessed the events which occurred at the Wawa or has any information to contact Det. Jon King at 302-698-8561.
Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, via www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com, or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword "DSP."
On Friday, Wawa announced the start of in-store collections for the Stephen Ballard Memorial Fund to benefit Cpl. Ballard's family. All 40 Wawa Delaware stores will collect funds to be given directly to the memorial fund with Wawa matching the first $50,000 in customer donations through May 8.
The Bear Wawa located at 1605 Pulaski Highway will reopen Saturday April 29 at 8 a.m. The store has been closed since Wednesday, out of respect for Cpl. Ballard, Wawa associates and all community members impacted by the tragedy.
"Everyone at Wawa joins the entire community in mourning the loss of Cpl. Ballard and we want to extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Cpl. Ballard as well as to all of the Delaware State Police," said John Sharpless, Director of Store Operations for all Delaware Wawa stores.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 5 at The Chase Center on the Riverfront, 815 Justison Street, Wilmington, Del.19801, where friends may pay respects to Cpl. Ballard's family from 8:30-11 a.m. His interment will be in Gracelawn Memorial Park, 2220 N. Dupont Highway, New Castle, Del., immediately following the services.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his memory be made to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), of which Cpl. Ballard was a member.