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Delaware gunman found dead; Cecil County police end assistance operations

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CHESAPEAKE CITY – A gunman who shot two people at a veterans cemetery in Bear, Del., on Friday morning and then fled - spurring a manhunt that impacted nearby Chesapeake City and the surrounding area - has been found dead in a wooded area close to that graveyard, where he and officers on scene exchanged gunfire earlier that day, according to Delaware State Police.

Friday evening DSP revealed that the victims of the shooting are from Elkton. An 85-year-old woman died at the scene and her husband, 86, is in critical condition at an area hospital.

Their names have not been released.

In an update press release issued at approximately 5:15 p.m. on Friday, DSP officials did not say how the gunman died, nor did they specify when troopers found his body. DSP officials also did not release the names of the gunman and the man and the woman he reportedly shot in the cemetery.

"The suspect responsible for the initial shooting of two subjects on the cemetery property, and who also had an exchange of gunfire with officers, was located deceased in the wooded area where the exchange of gunfire took place," according to a DSP spokesman.

The spokesman further reported, "At this time, the area is secure and there is no threat to public safety. The investigation is ongoing; therefore, a significant police presence will remain in and around the area for several hours."

DSP troopers responded to the Veterans Cemetery in the 2000 block of Chesapeake City Road at approximately 10:15 a.m. Friday after receiving a “shots fired” complaint, agency officials said. After arriving, police added, DSP troopers found a man and woman who had suffered gunshot wounds.

DSP Sr. Cpl. Heather Pepper reported on Friday afternoon, "There was an exchange of gunfire between officers on scene and the unknown suspect, (who then) fled into the woods in the area of Brennan Boulevard." No officers were injured, according to Pepper.

During the ensuing manhunt, which lasted several hours, Cecil County law enforcement officers stationed themselves at various locations in and around Chesapeake City, to prevent motorists from driving on certain roads that lead to the cemetery where the shootings occurred and to areas in Bear marked by heavy police activity, Lt. Michael Holmes, a Cecil County Sheriff's Office spokesman, told the Cecil Whig.

“We have several units at various spots near the (Maryland/Delaware) state line. We have blocked some roads leading into Delaware, to stop motorists from entering into Delaware from Cecil County,” Holmes said on Friday morning, listing Biddle Street and Woods Road as two of the Chesapeake City roads that police shut down during the operation.

Also earlier on Friday, during the police operation, CCSO Chief Deputy Gerald Widdoes reported that the gunman had been last seen on foot in a wooded area near Brennan Estates, which, on the Delaware side of the state line, is about a mile and a half east of Chesapeake City and is located behind the cemetery where the shootings occurred.

(Brennan Estates residents had been placed on lockdown, DSP officials reported.)

Also while law enforcement officers were looking for the gunman, Cecil County residents in the general area of the police activity were notified through a “reverse 911” call to “shelter in place” inside their homes until the situation was resolved, according to Widdoes. The “reverse 911” call covered an area west of Brennan Estates, north to Frenchtown Road and south to the Chesapeake City Canal Bridge in Chesapeake City, he outlined.

"The shelter in place (in Cecil County) has been lifted," Widdoes told the Cecil Whig at 5:50 p.m. Friday, shortly after DSP officials reported that the body of the gunman had been found.

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