- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Officers responding to a tip about a man armed with a handgun in downtown Dover shot the 21-year-old after a brief foot chase, authorities said Friday.

Chief Paul Bernat said police received a tip around 1 p.m. alerting them that Terrance Fletcher had a handgun. Officers converged on the area from two sides. Authorities said Fletcher was shot in the parking lot of a day care center after a brief chase through a narrow alley and over a broken chain link fence.

Police said Fletcher was shot in the thigh and was in stable condition late Friday at a local hospital.

“It’s believed to be a flesh wound,” said Bernat, who said he did not know what prompted the shooting or whether Fletcher pointed the gun at officers. The officer who shot Fletcher was approaching the scene from the area toward which Fletcher was running, with other officers pursuing Fletcher from behind.

A department spokesman said a loaded gun was found near Fletcher shortly after he was shot. He was later charged with carrying a concealed weapon and illegal possession of a firearm, and was being held on $20,000 bond.

Fletcher is black. The officer who shot him, a three-year veteran of the force, is white. However, Bernat said, “I don’t think that it’s racially motivated whatsoever.”

The officer was placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard policy.

Kim Butler, who works at the day care center, said she heard two shots and ran outside. Butler said she saw a police officer holding Fletcher’s hand as he lay on the ground, and that the officer who shot Fletcher appeared to be distraught, holding his head in his hands.

“He was in shock,” she said, adding that none of the daycare children was outside at the time.

The shooting briefly drew an angry crowd of about 40 area residents but there was no violence. Police spokesman Lt. Jason Pires said the department planned to beef up patrols Friday night as a precaution.

“We’re going to patrol the city like we normally do, we’re just going to have more officers available just in case,” he said. “Obviously, we understand the community’s frustrated. We understand what’s going on out there.”

“Things can get heated really quick, so we’ve got to be prepared for that,” Pires added.

Bernat said two men were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Pires said he expected criminal charges would be filed against Fletcher but was not able to provide any details.

While some residents wondered whether police could have taken Fletcher into custody with a Taser or some other non-lethal use of force, Bernat was not willing to second-guess his officer until an investigation is concluded.

“If the defendant had a gun, I don’t think you use a Taser with a gun,” Bernat said. “If this officer felt threatened … then I think that he handled it appropriately.”

He added, “But we don’t know the whole story yet.”

The Rev. Rita Paige, first vice president of the Central Delaware branch of the NAACP, said area residents had been making strides toward keeping the community safe.

“To have something like this go on again today just says that our work still isn’t done,” she said.

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