Hundreds turn out to honor slain trooper in Delaware


A funeral service was held Friday for slain Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen Ballard at the Chase Center on the Wilmington Riverfront. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr)

Hundreds of law enforcement officers turned out in rainy weather Friday to remember a Delaware trooper whose mom said “loved helping people.”

A funeral Friday for 32-year-old Cpl. Stephen Ballard at the Chase Center on the Riverfront was closed to the news media. But Ballard’s mother Robin said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press ahead of the funeral that her son loved his work.

“He loved helping people. He loved representing the state of Delaware. He loved representing the Delaware state troopers,” Robin Ballard said.

It was reported that former Vice President Joe Biden arrived to pay his respects, but did not stay for the ticketed funeral service, which was only open to family, state police and invited local law enforcement.

Stephen Ballard was shot April 26 while investigating a suspicious vehicle at a convenience store in Bear. His killer, Burgon Sealy Jr., then barricaded himself in his family home near Middletown, firing shots at officers during a 20-hour standoff before he was fatally shot.

Ballard grew up in Bowie, Maryland. For a long time, after touring an airplane cockpit on a flight to his grandmother and great-grandmother’s house, he wanted to be a pilot, his mom said. But he started to toy with the idea of being in law enforcement in high school.

He graduated from Delaware State University in 2007, where he majored in criminal justice, and graduated from the police academy in 2009. He returned to the university to be a mentor to other students, his mother said, and also spent time at a camp run by the Delaware State Police. Recently, he dressed in uniform to his step-daughter’s school for “Heroes Week,” she said.

Outside of work, he loved football, and his favorite teams were the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins, his mom said. He loved his mom’s crabcakes and music by Prince. He watched “Game of Thrones” and “The Real Housewives” on TV and was so devoted to his dog that when the Akita died he had him cremated and kept the ashes in an urn.

Every so often, his mom would urge him to move back closer to her in northern Virginia. But Ballard and his wife Louise, whom he married in 2015, recently bought a house in Delaware, and he was committed to his life there.

His mom said he told her: “I love being a trooper. I love Delaware. I’m not leaving.”

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