Dover mayor pushes for gate at Schutte Park after fatal shooting

DOVER – Mayor Robin R. Christiansen said Tuesday that he’s pushing to add a gate and increase security at Schutte Park, the site of a fatal weekend shooting during a gathering that police said had approximately 300 to 500 attendees.

Delaware State University student Devin Wright, 20, was shot in the head at the park and later died at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus, in an incident reported at approximately 9:39 p.m. A 22-year-old Smyrna man was shot in the shoulder and hand as well, police said.

In a process he hopes will take between 30 to 45 days at the most, the Dover mayor aims to have a gate installed to close Schutte Park at 10 Electric Ave. when it closes at dusk. The proposal must first be presented to the city’s Parks and Recreation committee, then forwarded to city council for a vote to approve, the mayor said.

“We’ve been considering adding a gate to Schutte Park for a while now and this event is going to expedite it,” Mayor Christiansen said.

In the interim, the mayor said police patrols will be significantly increased at Schutte and all city parks, and associated laws will be strictly enforced. Police pointed to the secluded nature of the area where the fatal incident occurred and said they were unaware of the party until called there due to reported gunfire.

Additionally, Mayor Christiansen said he will communicate with DSU officials to address any related issues. Police said most of the crowd at the unsanctioned party at Schutte Park were DSU students.

Attempts to reach DSU for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful. On Monday, spokesman Carlos Holmes released a statement that read, in part, “The Delaware State University community is profoundly saddened and troubled by the tragic death of Devin Wright.

“As information is currently being gathered about this incident, the university has no further comment at this time.”

The mayor said he expected that the city’s long history of positive collaboration with DSU would continue to be mutually beneficial. The mayor also plans to reach out to Wesley College, Wilmington University, Delaware Technical Community College and University of Delaware, all with campuses and locations in Dover.

The mayor said large gatherings are “always a serious concern for everyone’s health and well-being but it’s also part of being young, reckless and carefree while feeling kind of invincible at the same time.

“It’s still something that’s a concern to everyone and needs to be strongly addressed, however.”

At a news conference on Tuesday, Gov. John Carney said Sunday’s incident was “horrible and it’s heartbreaking for the family and the folks at Delaware State that are involved.

‘We’re still at a high level getting the facts …”

The governor said “we have been in communication with Delaware State, the University of Delaware about these type of off-campus gatherings.

“What I know about the gathering (in Dover) is that it was not a legal gathering. It was beyond the number of people that are permitted under the state of emergency with respect to COVID.”

Regarding off-campus gatherings more generally, the governor said “These young people need to understand that … these gatherings are dangerous not just with respect to a violent act but also just normal behavior that doesn’t turn up with a violent act … we’ve got to lean into that with our partners in local government and our universities.”

Gov. Carney also stressed “how horrific this (death) must be for a parent, for a family to have to deal with.”

Mayor Christiansen espoused similar feelings of a life ended too soon.

“I am saddened and appalled by this young person’s death which has extinguished the opportunity for a very promising future,” he said.