No injuries in trooper-suspect gunfire exchange

Aaron T. Purnell (Delaware State Police photo)

Aaron T. Purnell (Delaware State Police photo)

DOVER – A 30-year-old Harrington man was arrested after allegedly exchanging gunfire with a pursuing Delaware State Police trooper on Sunday night, authorities said.

Police said the incident unfolded at approximately 8:20 p.m. when troopers were dispatched to Alder Park Apartments at 51 Webbs Lane for a reported person with a gun.

According to authorities, troopers arrived and located a man matching the description given by the caller was located in between “G” and “H” buildings standing with another man. When the trooper attempted to make contact with the two, both persons began to run away, police said.

The trooper gave chase around the rear of “G” building when the two men split up and the trooper continued to follow the man matching the description with the gun, authorities said. That individual then turned and fired a round from a handgun at the trooper which resulted in the trooper firing back, police said.

After a lengthy foot pursuit, the suspect, later identified as Aaron T. Purnell, was apprehended by the trooper and taken into custody without further incident and was uninjured. A loaded 9mm handgun was located where Mr. Purnell was taken into custody, police said.

Mr. Purnell was transported to Troop 3 where he was charged with three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, aggravated menacing, first-degree reckless endangering, and resisting arrest with force. He was arraigned at JP Court 7 in Dover and committed to James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna on $96,000 cash bond.

The 38-year-old trooper involved has been employed by the Delaware State Police for 14 years and is assigned to Troop 3 patrol in Camden. He has been placed on administrative leave as per Divisional Policy pending the outcome of the investigation.

The trooper involved was not injured.

Detectives from the Delaware State Police Homicide Unit responded to the scene and are conducting the investigation. This is an active and ongoing investigation with detectives continuing their investigation by conducting interviews and collecting evidence to determine the circumstances surrounding this incident.

Police asked anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact Sergeant D. Weaver at 741-2728. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, online at, or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword “DSP.”

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