Trooper honored

Stu­dents pay trib­ute to of­fi­cer killed in line of duty

Newark Post - - Front Page - By KARIE SIM­MONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

Keene Ele­men­tary fourth­graders Ari­ana Hart, Ava Haynes and Marissa Robinson felt sad and dis­ap­pointed when they heard what hap­pened to Delaware State Po­lice Cpl. Stephen J. Bal­lard, who was gunned down April 26 in a Wawa park­ing lot near Bear.

“He wasn’t do­ing any­thing, just work­ing,” Hart said.

Bal­lard was ap­proach­ing a sus­pi­cious ve­hi­cle when the pas­sen­ger got out and be­gan fir­ing at him. He fell to the ground af­ter be­ing hit and the shooter con­tin­ued to fire rounds be­fore flee­ing to his fam­ily’s Mid­dle­townarea home.

The shooter, iden­ti­fied as 26-year-old Bur­gon Sealy Jr., was killed by po­lice 21 hours af­ter emerg­ing from the bar­ri­caded home. Po­lice used ex­plo­sive charges to break down the win­dows and doors and an ar­mored ve­hi­cle to rip sid­ing off the struc­ture.

Haynes, Hart and Robinson said their hearts ached for the fallen of­fi­cer’s fam­ily, but af­ter plac­ing a flower and hand­writ­ten card on his memo­rial on April 28, they felt a little bit bet­ter.

“I feel help­ful and it makes me feel less sad,” Haynes said.

“In my card I told him, ‘You saved my life and ev­ery­body else’s,’” Robinson added. “He worked there for 8 years, so he risked his life to keep peo­ple safe for 8 years.”

The girls joined more than 600 of their class­mates in walk­ing over to Delaware State Po­lice Troop 2 sta­tion to pay their re­spects to Bal­lard and the rest of the depart­ment, who lined up to hug stu­dents and shake their hands. The sta­tion is lo­cated next to Keene Ele­men­tary on Lagrange Av­enue off Pu­laski High­way in Glas­gow.

Prin­ci­pal Tara Bo­letti and Chris­tine McCarl, a para­pro­fes­sional and pres­i­dent of the PTA, said the event was put to­gether to show the po­lice depart­ment that Keene is a car­ing neigh­bor. The stu­dents placed more than 600 flow­ers, most of which were do­nated by Breger Flow­ers in Wilm­ing­ton, on Bal­lard’s memo­rial.

“It’s im­por­tant to teach our kids to give back to the com­mu­nity, and the po­lice do a lot in our com­mu­nity,” McCarl said.

Bo­letti said she’s amazed by the com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy the stu­dents were show­ing not only the of­fi­cers, but also each other.

“Just putting their arms around one another, it’s been in­cred­i­ble to wit­ness,” she said.

DSP spokesman Mas­ter Cpl. Jef­frey Hale said the depart­ment is grate­ful that Keene de­cided to reach out dur­ing what he de­scribed as a “tragic time.”

“We’re hurt­ing as a divi­sion right now,” he said. “The out­pour­ing of sup­port from the com­mu­nity, the school here and com­plete strangers has been over­whelm­ing.”

Hale said Bal­lard was just do­ing his job and wasn’t some­one who sought recog­ni­tion for his work.

“He was a great per­son who was down to earth, but I know this would mean the world to him,” he said.

On Mon­day, stu­dents and staff mem­bers at Oberle Ele­men­tary School in Bear gath­ered in the school park­ing lot for their own trib­ute to Bal­lard.

Af­ter the stu­dents and teach­ers ar­ranged them­selves in the shape of a heart, a teacher used a drone to pho­to­graph the for­ma­tion from above. Stu­dents later de­liv­ered the video from the event and hand­made cards to troop­ers at Troop 2.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIM­MONS

Hun­dreds of stu­dents at Keene Ele­men­tary School placed flow­ers and hand­made cards on Delaware State Po­lice Cpl. Stephen J. Bal­lard’s memo­rial on April 28. Bal­lard died April 26 af­ter be­ing shot at a Bear-area Wawa.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIM­MONS

A Delaware State Po­lice of­fi­cer hugs a Keene Ele­men­tary School stu­dent af­ter the stu­dents placed flow­ers and cards on Cpl. Stephen J. Bal­lard’s memo­rial.

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