- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Delaware state trooper killed in the line of duty was remembered Thursday as a warm family man who was always smiling.

Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, 32, was fatally shot Wednesday in the parking lot of a convenience store in New Castle County. Ballard had approached a vehicle with two suspicious people inside before the passenger, 26-year-old Burgon Sealy Jr. shot him, authorities said. The driver was arrested Wednesday at the scene and Sealy, who fled, was fatally shot by police Thursday after a lengthy standoff.

The head of the Delaware State Police, Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr., said Ballard’s actions “exemplified the dedication that he brought to the citizens of Delaware on a daily basis.”

Ballard was a 2007 graduate of Delaware State University, where he majored in criminal justice, and a 2009 graduate of the police academy. Delaware State University said in a statement that Ballard had served as a mentor to criminal justice majors who are part of the National Organization of Law Enforcement Executives.

“He was genuinely one of the most warm troopers that I’ve ever met,” said Lt. Thomas Brackin, the president of the Delaware State Police Troopers Association, adding that he never saw Ballard without a smile on his face.

A dedicated family man who was “very well-liked and respected by those he worked with,” Ballard leaves behind a wife and a 5-year-old stepdaughter, Brackin said.

A wedding website for Ballard and Louise Cummings shows they were married on Nov. 15, 2015 in Wilmington. Reached by telephone Thursday, Louise Cummings’ grandmother, also named Louise Cummings, said that “everybody is just devastated.”

James Spadola, who went through the police academy with Ballard wrote in a Facebook post that “no one was more determined or mentally stronger than Ballard.” In a telephone interview, he said that Ballard “excelled at being a positive person” and that they had spoken about Ballard’s interest in running for office at some point.

“He’s the type of person you’d want patrolling your parents’ neighborhood - just a really good person,” Spadola said.


Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jessicagresko

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