A man who led police on a 90-minute, mileslong chase across New Castle County after carjacking at least two vehicles died Friday after multiple bouts of gunfire with police.
The incident, which involved multiple police agencies throughout northern Delaware, left drivers stranded on numerous roadways, including I-95, for several hours as investigators and medical personnel worked to piece together what happened.
According to Delaware State Police, the incident began in the 100 block of Ayre St. in Newport around 7:30 a.m. when officers were dispatched to a report of a "suspicious person with a gun." When arriving troopers made contact with the man, he ran.
The response triggered an event that drew the attention of people across Delaware and into neighboring states, many of whom rely on I-95 for travel, especially during the busy rush hours.
The man, who has yet to be identified by police, was confronted by officers and shots were exchanged near a well-traveled Newport intersection, according to surveillance video obtained from the scene. In the following minutes and hours, a school bus was hit, multiple people were carjacked at gunpoint and police throughout Delaware were mobilized.
School bus hit with gunfire
During the Newport shootout, a school bus carrying Delcastle Technical High School students was hit, according to New Castle County Vocational Technical School District.
No students or the driver were injured, but the bus was struck by three bullets, including one that entered the vehicle and hit the driver's armrest.
The district said the driver was taking her normal route to school through Newport when she encountered the incident. Video from the area shows police with guns drawn chasing a person next to the bus. Several gunshots can be heard soon after, and the bus moves slightly.
Neither the students nor the bus was targeted, the district said, and the driver pulled over and called her supervisor. Delcastle Technical High School counselors are assisting students who were on the bus.
Police did not say whether the bullets that hit the bus came from police or the suspect, but confirmed that troopers shot at the suspect, who was in his 30s, police said.
Police said they need to review the ballistic tests to see who fired the bullets that hit the bus.
Chase goes onto Route 141, Route 4
Following the bus shooting, the suspect ran onto Route 141 and Route 4, where he carjacked a vehicle and fled the area after an unsuccessful attempt, police said. Troopers fired additional shots toward the man, police said Friday evening.
That led to a chase in the New Castle and Newark areas that ended on Old Cooch's Bridge Road behind Newark’s Red Roof Inn.
Police said that's where the man drove down a cul-de-sac near the Sobieski warehouse, got out of the car and ran through a wooded area onto I-95 south.
There, he tried to carjack two more people, shooting at least once at one of the cars. No one was injured at that time, police said.
The man was then able to carjack a third vehicle, though police did not say where exactly on the interstate that happened.
With police in chase, more shots were fired as the man fled south on I-95 to an area just south of Route 896. There, police used a vehicle maneuver to stop the now slow-moving car, and then shot at the man again.
Delaware State Police Sr. Cpl. Jason Hatchell said the suspect was injured at that scene and though police tried to render first aid, "it was immediately apparent that the suspect would not survive his injuries."
Troopers shot at the man in at least four separate locations, a state police captain later said.
Officers from New Castle County Police, Newport, Elsmere and the city of New Castle were also involved.
Local pastor witnesses Newport incident
The Rev. Greg Vickers, pastor of Peniel United Methodist Church in Newport, heard the gunshots that sparked the several-mile chase as he was getting his dogs ready for their morning walk.
His home is next to the church, which is caddy-corner to the Route 141 off-ramp near where the first carjacking occurred.
“I heard maybe four, five, maybe six shots, looked outside quickly and saw two Delaware troopers get in a car quickly, make a U-turn and head west,” he said.
There were seven evidence markers Friday afternoon in the driveway of the Newport Masonic Hall, located across from the church on East Market Street. State troopers were stationed in cars nearby, shooing any passersby onto the sidewalk, which was not cordoned off.
About 200 feet away on the Route 141 off-ramp, seven more evidence markers dotted the roadway, which was blocked by police vehicles and caution tape as investigators worked.
Vickers said he did not believe his church or home were struck by any of the bullets.
Nearby, at the Exxon gas station located near the ramp, an employee said she heard the gunshots, looked out the window and saw the commotion. She later heard more details about what happened.
“He wanted a death wish and he got it,” she said, declining to give her name due to fear.
Vickers decided the church would stay on schedule and open its soup kitchen Friday morning, even with the exit ramp closed and an ongoing police investigation at their front door.
“We are here to serve the community and will continue to share God’s outreach no matter what it takes,” he said after going outside to offer meals, coffee or the warmth of the church to police as they worked.
Road blockages snarl traffic near Newark Friday morning
The chase and shooting caused major traffic headaches Friday, with a number of roads still shut down into the afternoon hours.
Emergency services radio communications indicated paramedics were called to the southbound side of the interstate at South College Avenue (Route 896) shortly after 8 a.m., and state police said in a news release shortly after that the interstate would be "shut down for an extended period."
That road closure there appeared to be caused by on-scene police investigators and medical personnel.
Around 11:30 a.m., a helicopter hovered near Route 896, and the exit there was backed up. Traffic from Route 896 was getting pushed further back onto South College Avenue and cars were using the emergency lane to bypass the standstill traffic heading away from the University of Delaware.
A number of other roads around Newark were shut down as a result of the chase and shooting Friday morning, with traffic backing up to the Maryland state line.
Bear construction worker Curtis Reed, who was in the area on Friday, said he was surprised by how much of an impact the road closures had.
“The first thing that went through my mind was ‘you don’t realize how much I-95 is used,'" he said.
Reporters Hannah Edelman and Krys'tal Griffin contributed to this report.
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware shooting on I-95 leaves man dead after carjackings, chase