Cemetery homicide suspect died in gunfire exchange, DSP says

Delaware State Police on Friday released photos of a BearCat Armored Vehicle damaged by gunfire during an incident near the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear on May 8. (Submitted photos/Delaware State Police)

BEAR – Authorities on Friday announced that Delaware State Police fatally shot a homicide suspect during a May 8 incident near the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Sheldon C. Francis, 29, of Middletown, died during an exchange of gunfire with troopers in a wooded area near the cemetery, spokeswoman Senior Cpl. Heather Pepper said.

Earlier, police said that Francis fatally shot an Elkton, Md. couple visiting the cemetery at around 10:13 a.m.

Delaware State Police on Friday released photos of a BearCat Armored Vehicle damaged by gunfire during an incident near the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear on May 8. (Submitted photos/Delaware State Police)

Lidia Marino, 85, was pronounced dead at the scene at 2465 Chesapeake City Road and her husband, Paul, 86, died at a hospital the next day, authorities said.

Francis was located at 12:08 p.m. after running into the wooded area between the cemetery and Brennan Boulevard an hour earlier, police said.

Delaware State Police on Friday released photos of a BearCat Armored Vehicle damaged by gunfire during an incident near the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear on May 8. (Submitted photos/Delaware State Police)

An arriving BearCat Armored Vehicle “began immediately taking on a significant amount of gunshot rounds from Francis,” and a deadly exchange of gunfire with Special Operations Response Team members ensued, police said.

Francis was pronounced dead at the scene. No troopers were injured.
Several troopers involved in the response have been placed on administrative leave with pay, according to Cpl. Pepper.

In a public update on May 10, DSP said it was undetermined whether Francis’s wound was self-inflicted or resulted from the exchange of gunfire.

Investigation by the DSP Homicide Unit continues and no motive has been established, authorities said. There’s no evidence of any connection between Francis and the Marinos, according to police.

Police asked anyone with information on the incident or a possible motive to call 698-8557. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or online at delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.