Dover Police use words to defuse scene after shooting

 

Police officers gather in front of an alleyway in the 100 block of South New Street last Friday afternoon as a crime scene investigation ensues behind them. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

Police officers gather in front of an alleyway in the 100 block of South New Street last Friday afternoon as a crime scene investigation ensues behind them. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

DOVER — Police estimated a crowd fluctuating from 50 to perhaps 300 or more people gathered last Friday afternoon as investigation into an officer-involved shooting was ongoing nearby.

The Dover Police Department was gathering information after an incident that wounded a 21-year-old city man with non-life-threatening injuries in the area of the 100 blocks of South New Street and South Governors Avenue, and emotions were running high.

A wall of officers blocked entry to an alleyway where a suspect — later identified as Terrance Fletcher — had fled a little after 1 p.m. before emerging on the other side and being shot in the upper right thigh by an officer facing him in a parking lot in the 100 block of South Governors Avenue.

Police said some members of the crowd became hostile as the event unfolded, and two disorderly conducts were made. For the most part, verbal harangues were the most volatile behaviors from bystanders, and officers appeared to remain mostly stoic.

“Communication was the best tactic in that situation,” Dover Police spokesman Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

“Officers remained calm, listened to the grievances of people, and addressed inaccurate information with facts they were aware of at the time. Officers were able to disperse the crowd with few issues as a result of their patience and communication skills.”

When police officers did interact with crowd members, their actions often were captured with cellphone cameras with the capacity for video and photos.

“Yes, we were aware (of the cameras), but that should not and did not affect any responses,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

“As police officers, we have a job to do and do it as we are trained to. Cameras or no cameras, our officers are expected to act with patience and integrity, and in accordance with the training they receive and departmental policy and procedures.”

The sequence began shortly before 1 p.m. when Dover Police’s Street Crimes Unit received a tip regarding a reportedly armed man in the 100 block of South New Street, and went to the area, authorities said.

According to police, Mr. Fletcher was contacted, fled and then shot at approximately 1 p.m. after a pursuit covering approximately 60 to 70 yards.

A shots fired call was broadcast by an officer at the scene “immediately” after the officer fired, Cpl. Hoffman said and “At that point, all units available responded.”

Assisting officers arrive

Night shift officers were called in early to assist handling of other responses, Cpl. Hoffman said, while several officers worked to secure the scene and respond to what was described as “the unruly crowd situation.”

At 1:55 p.m., Dover Police made calls to Milford, Smyrna, and State Police agencies for assistance. Capitol Police Chief John Horsman said some of his officers arrived simultaneously as Dover Police initially was arriving at the scene.

Eventually, Chief Horsman said, 10 Capitol Police officers took part in setting up a perimeter around the area under investigation.

According to Cpl. Hoffman, the outside officers were called due to the “need to maintain the integrity of the incident scene and crowd management as they became hostile towards our officers.”

Smyrna Police spokesman Cpl. Brandon Dunning said his agency sent five Special Investigations Unit officers to Dover and they were there for approximately two hours before returning to their jurisdiction. Patrol officers remained in Smyrna.

So far this year, officials said, Smyrna Police has received 220 calls for assistance from other law enforcement officers/agencies. Cpl. Dunning said Smyrna Police does not tabulate how many requests for assistance it has made to other agencies.

The Smyrna Police Agency Jurisdiction and Mutual Aid reads, “Any request for assistance of an emergency nature shall be handled on a priority basis.”

While state police would not provide the number of responding troopers due to “operational security,” spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier did say that assistance came “by sending any available working patrol units to the area.

“The numbers vary as some units discontinued due to operational necessity within the areas the state police patrol. At least one K-9 unit remained on-scene until the crowds dispersed and our aviation unit responded with a helicopter.”

According to Cpl. Fournier, assists between law enforcement agencies is a common occurrence.

“Troopers and municipal agencies assist each other on a daily basis ranging from traffic stops to all other calls for service depending on the severity and nature of the call as well as the proximity of the closest responding unit,” he said.

Maj. Mailey leads

Dover Police Deputy Chief Maj. Marvin Mailey managed the scene, with Lt. Jason Pires orchestrating officers in crowd control and crime scene security, and Lt. Chad Bernat overseeing the crime scene investigation.

At least 30 officers from multiple jurisdictions were called to the downtown area, though Dover Police said an exact number was difficult to estimate. Also arriving was Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control Fish and Wildlife Enforcement personnel, Cpl. Hoffman said.

Dover Police said K-9s were available, but remained in their handlers’ vehicles and not used. Also, a Delaware State Police helicopter hovered overhead as a surveillance tool, according to authorities.

Outside law enforcement officers spent the majority of their time managing the crowd and securing the shooting scene area, Cpl. Hoffman said.

“Maintaining the integrity of the incident scene was the top priority,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

Police said investigation into the shooting and apprehension began immediately upon arrival and was concluded by 4 p.m. The scene was secured within minutes of first arrival, according to Cpl. Hoffman.

By approximately 5 p.m., all law enforcement had left the area, authorities said.

Police said investigation “is ongoing and detectives would like to speak to any potential witnesses that they have not spoken with already.”

Authorities said Mr. Fletcher was a fugitive from a West Virginia felony case, and authorities there had been notified of his apprehension.

Mr. Fletcher was first interviewed by police on Tuesday at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna. On Wednesday, police claimed that he admitted to having a gun during the incident.

Charges included carrying a concealed deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, and given a $20,000 secured bond. Mr. Fletcher had an initial court appearance scheduled for this morning.

Anyone with information on the incident can contact the Dover Police at 736-7111. Callers may remain anonymous.

Tips can also be submitted to law enforcement through tip lines maintained by Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333 or at www.tipsubmit.com or through Dover Police’s MyPD Mobile App.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or canderson@newszap.com. Follow @DSNAnderson on Twitter.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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