Updated: Second victim dies from cemetery shooting incident

BEAR — Delaware State Police identified Sheldon C. Francis as the 29-year-old Middletown man who killed an elderly couple in a shooting at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery Friday.

An 85-year-old woman died Friday night from injuries sustained in the Friday morning shooting; her 86-year-old husband died Saturday from his injuries, police said. He was initially transported from the scene in critical condition, said spokesman Master Cpl. Michael Austin.

Police said Francis sustained a gunshot wound, but it was undetermined whether it was self-inflicted or resulted from the exchange with police that happened after police arrived at the cemetery in response to the initial shots fired call. Police said the incident occurred at around 10:13 a.m.

Francis was found dead in a wooded area adjacent to the cemetery about 4 p.m. Friday. An exchange of gunfire with police occurred in the area around 12:08 p.m., Cpl. Austin said.

It was unknown whether the couple from Elkton, Maryland, and Francis knew each other prior to the incident, police said.

“We don’t have any information regarding a relationship or connection at this time but that is part of the ongoing investigation,” Cpl. Austin said.

Identification of the victims is pending notification of next of kin, police said.

A service had been held at the veterans cemetery prior to the shooting, but officials with the state department said people attending that service had cleared the scene.

Twelve cemetery employees were working at the time, and they were unharmed after sheltering inside a building, the Delaware Department of State said. The employees were released from the cemetery by police at approximately 3:30 p.m.

A cemetery employee called 911 to report shots had been fired, officials said.

The wooded area where Francis was found is located just off Brennan Boulevard in the Brennan Estates neighborhood, police said. The cemetery is located at 2465 Chesapeake City Road.

As the incident unfolded Friday, area residents were advised to shelter in place through a reverse 911 call. Police said some residents were temporarily evacuated.

At least two helicopters were seen hovering over the area and multiple road closures resulted.

DSP said they received manpower and resource assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, police from New Castle County, Wilmington, Newark and Dover, New Castle County EMS and the Delaware Department of Transportation.

The DSP Homicide Unit continues to investigate. Anyone with information is asked to call Det. M. Ryde at 698-8557.
Tips may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or online at delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.