‘Totally unacceptable’: Shooting spree mars end of 2019 in Dover

DOVER — A pair of shootings occurred less than three hours apart in the city of Dover late Monday night into early Tuesday morning, injuring two men and ensuring that 2019 would go out on a violent note.

The trend of gun violence over the past couple of weeks is unacceptable, according to Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen.

“We have had a recent rash of shootings. This is totally unacceptable,” Mayor Christiansen said. “This activity has not been limited just to Dover, but surrounding areas and throughout the state.

“However, my responsibility is the safety of our citizens and those who work and visit here.”

Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, spokesman for the Dover Police Department, said he wasn’t sure what the recent spate of gun violence in the city has done to its violent crime numbers.

“At this point, I know (firearm shootings) are higher than 2018, but I do not have an updated number at this moment,” Master Cpl. Hoffman said.

There were 31 shooting investigations in Dover in 2018, including 17 in which a shooting victim was injured or killed. Violent crimes in Dover increased 30 percent in 2018 over ’17 (346 instances to 265).

While neither of the most recent two shootings proved fatal, two men were injured and taken to Bayhealth Hospital-Kent Campus in Dover for treatment following the incidents.

The first shooting occurred in the 400 block of Barrister Place late Monday night and left a 30-year-old man with wounds to his hand and thigh and Dover police searching for suspects, according to Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, spokesman for the Dover Police Department.

Master Cpl. Hoffman said that around 10:52 p.m., the male victim was in front of his home at Barrister Place when he was allegedly approached by two black male suspects.

The victim told police the suspects both displayed firearms and went through his pants pockets. As the victim pulled away, one suspect fired two rounds, striking him once in the hand and once in the thigh. He then ran to the home of a neighbor, who took him to Bayhealth Hospital-Kent Campus in Dover, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The suspects were described as black males, wearing all black clothing, with black ski masks covering their faces.

The second incident took place at around 1:32 a.m. on Tuesday when a 20-year-old man was injured from gunfire in the 100 block of Haman Drive, Master Cpl. Hoffman said.

The victim told police that he was taking out trash from a friend’s residence when he saw a green four-door vehicle drive by. He said he heard four or five gunshots and was struck in his thigh.

He said he ran back to his friend’s apartment and called 911. He was treated at Bayhealth Hospital-Kent Campus for non-life-threatening injuries.

The man stated that there were four black males inside the vehicle, all wearing black-hooded sweatshirts and red face masks.

The investigation into the incidents is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact the Dover Police Department at (302) 736-7130. Callers may remain anonymous.

Tips may also be submitted to law enforcement through Delaware Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333 or online at delawarecrimestoppers.com; a cash reward of up to $1,000 is possible for information leading to an arrest.

Gun violence trending

The most recent shootings in Dover put an exclamation mark on a violent finish to 2019 in the state capital — making it seven shootings in just more than a week.

There have been three shootings in less than a week’s time around South New Street, including one in which a couple of victims were approached by five to six men while they were on the porch of a home and shot.

The other two recent shooting incidents on South New Street involved a pair of homes struck by gunfire, one on Christmas Eve and another on Dec. 27.

There was also another shooting incident that took place along Webbs Lane near the Dover city limits in which the Rite Aid Pharmacy was struck by a stray bullet during a confrontation between a 19-year-old and a group of people inside a van.

Two other shootings occurred on back-to-back days in the Capital Park development just south of Dover over the past week.

The latest incident happened at around 7 p.m. last Saturday when a man was walking from his house on State Circle to his car, police said. A suspect fired several shots, missing the man, but hitting his house and two cars parked nearby.

The night before, a woman was sitting in her car outside a house on Governors Boulevard when gunfire erupted before she was struck. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Planning a response

Mayor Christiansen said he was spoken with Tim Stump, acting police chief for the Dover Police Department, and is working on implementing a plan to curtail the gun violence.

“I have spoken to the chief and he and I will be putting into place extra patrols and other measures, including multiple agency cooperation,” said Mayor Christiansen. “The public should be aware of two things – public safety is job one and the chief and I take this very seriously.

“There will be zero tolerance and our citizens need to know that the clearance rate (at Dover Police Department) for major crimes is 80 percent. With that said, we will apprehend the people who are doing these shootings. We also need the public to partner with the men and women of Dover PD to make our neighborhoods safe. If you see something say something.”

The mayor added, “Finally, the judicial system needs to revisit recent reforms and make sure those reforms provide stiff consequences for those folks that endanger our communities.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.