Volunteers work tirelessly to make house safe for investigators after fatal fire

By Lauren Huet and Mike Phillips 9:27pm, September 28, 2016
Lauren Huet reports how volunteers helped make scene of fatal fire safe for investigators
Many Wilmington Firefighters are calling the efforts of a group of volunteer firefighters extraordinary. The volunteers worked tirelessly after a fatal fire claimed two of their brothers' lives, in order to make a safe environment for investigators to work.

Early Saturday morning, a fire in a Canby Park row home caused the first floor of the house to collapse. The floor collapse killed two firefighters, 41-year-old Lieutenant Christopher Leach, and 51-year-old Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes. It also critically injured Senior Firefighter Ardythe Hope and Firefighter Brad Speakman. They are both being treated at Crozer Medical Center.

"Upon our arrival the firefighters had already been removed from the structure, and our focus at that point became support to the investigators at that point," said David McCarthy, a leader of the Structural Collapse Team under New Castle County Technical Rescue Group.

Leach was a member of their team.

"Extremely difficult. Extremely," said McCarthy. "We literally sat down before we got started and made sure everyone's head was in the game. We were 100 percent obligated to get our work done. It was incredible to watch the team work knowing that not only Chris, but we knew all of the firefighters involved. So it was very difficult."

McCarthy asks the community to pray for the two injured firefighters Hope and Speakman.

The damage caused by the fatal fire made it extremely dangerous for investigators to enter the house. Investigators credit the Structural Collapse Team volunteers for creating a safe environment in which to work.

"After we determined the plan of shoring," said McCarthy, "we discussed that with the investigators and they cleared out a little bit of debris from the door openings. We installed shoring at that point. They worked their way in a couple of feet, we installed more shoring, and the shoring and clearing of debris went in that fashion."

A painstakingly slow process. Volunteers worked 18 hours Saturday and 9 Sunday, shoring the structure.

"Between Saturday through Monday we spent about 36 hours total in shoring efforts, and Saturday there was in the upwards of 25 structural collapse technicians and 30 additional support staff. Sunday, there was about 15 technicians and 20 support staff. The total man hours I'm not sure but it was certainly substantial," said McCarthy.

Volunteers from New Castle County's technical rescue team, Kent County's team, and Sussex County's team all worked together.

"So, it truly was a state-wide technical rescue event," said McCarthy.

The volunteers set up pneumatic posts stretching from the basement to the second floor. Crews also replaced floor timbers damaged in the blaze and built a small shed out of wood to protect investigators while working in the basement.

"As of right now the majority of the structure is supported with pneumatic, which will be retrieved after the fire marshal's office gets done their investigation. From that point it will be at least, I would guess, probably $1,500 to $2,000 worth of material," said McCarthy.

All of their work was done under the threat of the second floor collapsing.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," said McCarthy. "We did it in such a manner that we limited our exposure to any type of collapse, but we had safeties literally perched on ladders the entire time anyone was in the structure. We had another safety on the ground making sure that rescuers weren't going beyond the limits, or investigators for that matter. So, it was done methodically."

A group of volunteers who gave freely of their time and materials. None of them wanted to be anywhere else.

"They're our brothers and sisters," said McCarthy. "Literally everyone involved was family. So there is not a single place anyone of those team members would rather be than there doing that."


Body discovered behind gas station near Newark

By Andrew Sgroi 10:13am, September 28, 2016 - Updated 11:32am, September 28, 2016
The area behind the Shell gas station, located at Route 4 and Marrows Road, where a person's body was discovered on WEdnesday, September 28, 2016. (Mike Phillips/WDEL)
A gruesome discovery was made near Newark on Wednesday morning.

The state medical examiner is also on location, removing the body of the deceased person discovered behind the gas station located at 380 East Chestnut Hill Road in Brookside./(Mike Phillips/WDEL)

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Delaware State Police shut down the area behind a Brookside Shell gas station, located at 380 East Chestnut Hill Road, after learning that a person's body was found there by a Delmarva Power utility crew around 8:40 a.m. on September 28, 2016.

The investigation was ongoing, but a State Police spokesman revealed that the person was not believed to be a victim of foul play.


Police-community relations addressed during town hall meeting at Dover's DSU

By Robert Petree/WXDE 9:20pm, September 28, 2016
Kent County Panel on police-community relations/Robert Pretree
What can be done to improve to improve the relationship that exists between police and the Kent County community?

Delaware officials hoped a town hall hosted at Delaware State University Tuesday night would held guide them to the beginning of developing some answers.

The panel was comprised of elected officials, members of law enforcement, and community activists, all of whom participated in answering questions from a predominantly black audience.

Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat said steps were being taken to improve policing, and it started with two officers who would be attending specialized training in Florida.

"I would love to see the community hold themselves more accountable when it comes to listening to the police officer," Bernat said. "I would like to see our police officers get more diversity training--which we are doing; we are sending two officers down to Florida for weeks-long training to come back and be able to instruct all the other officers on culture diversity."

The town hall was a joint venture between Delaware State Police, Dover Police, legislators, Delaware State University and the First State Community Action Agency.


Authorities: South Carolina school shooter apparently shot his father to death before rampage; 2 students, teacher wounded

By Associated Press 4:05pm, September 28, 2016 - Updated 5:43pm, September 28, 2016
Lilly Chapman, 8, cries after being reunited with her father, John Chapman at Oakdale Baptist Church on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Townville, S.C. where students were evacuated following a shooting. (Rainier Ehrhardt/AP)
Authorities most recently revealed they believe an as-yet-unnamed teenage suspect arrested in connection to a South Carolina school shooting likely shot his father to death prior to the incident at the school.

Police responded to a reportedly deceased adult near the scene of the school shooting.

Capt. Garland Major told a news conference that the shooter used a handgun and that one of the students was shot in the leg and the other in the foot.

Coroner Greg Shore told the Greenville News and Independent Mail that the injuries of two students from a shooting at a South Carolina elementary school do not appear to be life-threatening.

A female teacher was also wounded in the shooting, shot in the shoulder, Major said.

The shooting took place at the Townville Elementary School in Townville, South Carolina, on Wendesday. All other students are safe and evacuated to a nearby church.


VP Biden to appear on 'Law & Order: SVU' Wednesday

By WXDE staff 4:18pm, September 28, 2016 - Updated 9:20pm, September 28, 2016
Vice President Joe Biden will appear in Wednesday's episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Biden traveled to New York in July to tape his appearance for SVU. The White House said the episode will deal with the rape kit backlog and efforts to end violence against women.

SVU will air on NBC at 9 p.m.


Memorial information is released for Wilmington's fallen firefighters

By Andrew Sgroi 10:45am, September 27, 2016 - Updated 6:03am, September 28, 2016
Lt. Christopher Leach, left, and Sr. FF Jerry Fickes, right/(WDEL file)
The remembrance and honor programs have been finalized for Wilmington Fire Department's fallen heroes.

Lieutenant Christopher Leach and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, Jr. will be memorialized during a joint ceremony on Saturday, October 1, 2016, the Wilmington Firefighter's Association, Local 1590, announced on Tuesday.

The public service, to be held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, will begin at 1:00 p.m., with doors opening at 12 p.m. This will be the only event where departments will be able to stage their apparatus as part of a static display of honor.

Funeral Services

Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, Jr.

There will be a public viewing at the Grace Lutheran Church, 2033 Graves Rd., Hockessin, DE on Thursday, September 29, 2016 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Fire personnel are asked to pay their respects during this time. A second viewing will occur from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 30, 2016, with a private service to follow immediately afterwards. It is requested that this event remain one for family, friends, and members of the Wilmington Fire Department. Seating and parking will be extremely limited at this church.

Lieutenant Christopher Leach

Services will be held at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, 809 S Broom St., in Wilmington on Friday, September 30, 2016. The day will begin at 10 a.m. with a viewing that will be open to family and friends, the Wilmington Fire Department and local first responders. It will be followed by a funeral mass starting at 12 p.m. In addition, honor guards, as well as pipes and drums, are invited to attend.

The parking, staging, contact e-mail and report times for the outside departments are as follows:

Honor Guards

Public Safety Honor Guards from all departments are welcome at the funeral mass for Lt. Christopher Leach on Friday, and at the joint memorial service on Saturday. You are asked that you e-mail Griff Jordan at gjordan188@gmail.com if you plan on participating, include the mode of transportation (car-bus-van) and how many members are attending. For the funeral mass, please arrive by 8:00 a.m. at the church. For the joint memorial service, arrival should be no later than 10:30 a.m. (parking lots open at 8:00 a.m.). You will be parking in Lot A and be part of the opening ceremony. Please note, there may be extra security procedures put in place that will require an earlier arrival time. Please check the web site at www.wilmingtonfirefighters.org for the latest logistic information.

Pipes and Drums

Pipes and Drums from all departments are welcome at the joint memorial service. You are asked that you e-mail Mike Khairzada at mkhairzada@comcast.net if you plan on participating, and include the mode of transportation (car-bus-van) you have and how many members are attending. Please arrive no later than 10:30 a.m. (parking lots open at 8:00 a.m.). You will be parking in Lot A and be part of the opening ceremony. Please note there may be extra security procedures put in place that will require an earlier arrival time. Please check the web site at www.wilmingtonfirefighters.org for the latest logistic information.

Outside Fire Fighters with Apparatus

If you plan to arrive at Saturday’s joint memorial service on fire apparatus, please enter Lot B no later than 10:00 a.m. (parking lots open at 8:00 a.m.). You will be positioned at the venue for a static display for the arrival of the families and the public. It is requested that no outside apparatus attend the funeral services. Outside fire fighters and first responders are asked to arrive at the Chase Center no later than 10:30 a.m. Upon arrival, you will be directed to specific parking and then to the entrance for seating inside the venue. Please note there may be extra security procedures put in place that will require an earlier arrival time. Please check the web site at www.wilmingtonfirefighters.org for the latest logistic information.


Independent study shows Delaware tourism branding makes an impact

By Lauren Huet 12:53pm, September 28, 2016 - Updated 9:22pm, September 28, 2016
An independent study by FutureBrand shows Delaware's tourism branding and marketing positively influences potential visitors.

"The significance of the study is that it is an independent study and it clearly shows that our brand resonates with potential out of state visitors," said Delaware Tourism Director Linda Parkowski.

Delaware's branding, the "Endless Discoveries" campaign, was launched in early 2015. It was the state's first ever comprehensive tourism branding effort.

"We launched that brand in 2015, after two years of exhaustive research into what would resonate and motivate out of state visitors to travel to Delaware. Since the brand has been launched we see in our office that numbers are up," said Parkowski.

The campaign focuses on the beach, outdoor activities, and adventure.

"All of Delaware's outdoor resources resonate really well with out of state travelers. It does spark their curiosity into what might make them come to Delaware," said Parkowski.

"The small state of Delaware makes a big impact on domestic tourists, according to our research," said Chris Nurko, Global Chairman of FutureBrand.

In the study, researchers asked people what they thought of each state, and if they would visit.

"And then they were shown the brand messaging, the logo, travel guide, website, all the imagery," said Parkowski. "Then they were asked again, 'now what do you think? Would you visit?' And 52 percent of the people surveyed were more likely to visit Delaware after seeing the brand messaging. It was the second highest result in the country. So, we know now that with this study that's just been released, we know the branding is working."

The only state that had a higher result than Delaware was Idaho with a 53 percent increase in people likely to visit.

Since Delaware began emphasizing tourism in 2008, tourism has grown into a $3-billion a year industry. It brings 8 million annual visitors and generates $470 million in taxes and fees for state and local government.

"Because of tourism in Delaware residents are lucky, because we have such wonderful assets such as the beach, and we have a lot of culinary offerings and attractions that maybe we wouldn't have without the tourism dollars funneling into our state," said Parkowski.


3 charged after car stop leads to Dover shooting suspect

By DJ McAneny 1:11pm, September 28, 2016
Corey Harris, Jamel Littlepage, and Hakeem Gibson/Courtesy Dover Police
Three men were arrested Tuesday in connection to a shooting that occurred at the end of August in Dover, city authorities announced Wednesday.

According to Dover Police, Corey Harris, 21, was identified as an occupant in an SUV being operated by Jamel Littlepage, 22, and additionally occupied by Hakeen Gibson, 21, when is was pulled over in the area of Leipsic Road and North Dupont Highway on September 27, 2016, at 3:03 p.m.

Harris being wanted in reference to a shooting incident which occurred on August 31, 2016, along River Road led to a search of the vehicle and the other two occupants, police said.

According to authorities, Gibson was found found to be in possession of a loaded 9mm handgun, an extra magazine, and 10 bags of heroin, Littlepage was found to be in possession of a loaded 9mm handgun and 28.7 grams of marijuana under the driver's seat, and 9.1 grams of marijuana, a digital scale, and a bag of heroin were found throughout the remainder of the vehicle.

Harris was charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, three counts possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, reckless endangering, possession of heroin, second-degree conspiracy, criminal mischief, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, and being a local fugitive.

Littlepage was charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, possession of heroin, second-degree conspiracy and two counts reckless endangering.

Gibson was charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, three counts possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, possession of heroin, second-degree conspiracy and reckless endangering.


Councilwoman withdraws a bill preventing political appointees in New Castle County from being included in merit system

By Joe Irizarry 11:00pm, September 27, 2016 - Updated 7:50am, September 28, 2016
Kilpatrick explains her move regarding legislaiton prevention political appointees from being included in the merit system
Legislation preventing New Castle County political appointees from being included in the county's merit system during a lame duck administration was pulled.

County Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick pulled the emergency legislation before ever introducing it because council rules require seven co-sponsors to introduce emergency legislation, which she said she did not have after an executive committee meeting Tuesday.

"Nobody in the past in six years that I have been here has ever had seven co-sponsors on a piece of legislation, and no one has ever challenged it because that was brought up, I felt that it was my job basically to pull the legislation rather than trying to do something that might be deemed illegal at some point," said Kilpatrick

She adds that County Chief Administrative Officer Tim Mullaney promised council there will be no movement of political appointees, but the administration could reconsider.

"I think it would be considered a slap in the face to everybody (in the county) because as was mentioned up in the committee hearing, we are the ones that look at the finances and to just arbitrarily move people over into positions is not something that should be done," said Kilpatrick. "We have a merit system, in our merit system, we have a process."

Kilpatrick said the process includes the posting of jobs, interviewing and hiring the most qualified for the position.

Kilpatrick added she will bring up legislation again when the new County Executive Matt Meyer or Mark Blake is in office to ensure that an outgoing administration doesn't try to place political appointees into merit-based jobs without those employees going through the normal county hiring process.


Man charged in connection to weekend Bear shooting; 1 still sought

By DJ McAneny 2:31pm, September 28, 2016
Anthony Stanley/Courtesy Delaware State Police
One of two men wanted in connection to a shooting which occurred in Bear has been apprehended, Delaware State Police announced Wednesday.

According to authorities, Anthony Stanley, 19, of New Castle, was arrested at work in the 100 block of North DuPont Highway on Tuesday, September 27, for an incident that occurred that previous Saturday.

A two men, 21 and 23 years old, were sitting in a vehicle at the intersection of Auckland and 3 Rivers Drive near Wellington Woods when Stanley pulled a Monte Carlo in front of them in an attempt to block their path, then exited his vehicle to confront the 21-year-old driver regarding a previous incident, according to police.

Authorities said the victim attempted to flee in his vehicle westbound on Pulaski Highway, but Stanley pulled alongside them and his passenger, identified by police as Walike Parham, 17, of Newark, pulled out a handgun, and began shooting at the victims, striking the victim's vehicle several times.

The victims struck the rear of a vehicle stopped at the Salem Church Road intersection and the Monte Carlo fled.

Police said there were no injuries.

Stanley was charged with first-degree reckless endangering, and second-degree conspiracy. He was released on $10,000 unsecured bond.

Parham is still wanted on charges of possession of a deadly weapon during commission of a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, criminal mischief, first-degree reckless endangering, and second-degree conspiracy. He's 5'4", weighs 187 lbs., and has black hair with brown eyes.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to contact Delaware State Police Det. Nicholas Terranova at 302.365.8436 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


Dover to remove blue light emergency phone stations

By Associated Press 3:29pm, September 28, 2016 - Updated 9:22pm, September 28, 2016
Dover officials have decided to remove emergency phone stations in its parks after concluding that the kiosks have been largely unused, with most people having cellphones they can use to call 911 instead.

WBOC's Tom Lehman reported that the city council voted Monday to remove the five blue light stations, which were installed several years ago and cost about $1,000 a year to keep the phone lines in service.

Dover police spokesman Cpl. Mark Hoffman said that when the phones have been put to use, they have tended to hail emergency dispatchers when no one was in danger.

City staff recommended decommissioning and removing the phones after a station in Silver Lake Park malfunctioned during Memorial Day weekend, repeatedly calling 911 and tying up emergency dispatchers.


Man charged with cocaine possession after allegedly running from Dover traffic stop

By DJ McAneny 2:53pm, September 28, 2016
Travis Caldwell/Courtsey Dover Police
A man who ran from a traffic stop was eventually caught and is now facing drug charges, Dover Police announced Wednesday.

According to authorities, 34-year-old Travis Caldwell was operating an unregistered towncar in the area of South Queen Street on Tuesday, September 26, 2016, at 10:02 p.m., when an officer pulled him over.

Police said Caldwell turned his documents over to the office who stopped him, but fled on foot when the officer returned to his squad car.

The officer chased Caldwell and took him into custody behind a home on South Queen Street. Near where he was apprehended, police said they recovered two bags of cocaine weighing 15.8 grams.

Caldwell was charged with possession of cocaine-Tier III quantity, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, and multiple traffic offenses. He was released after posting $37,175 secured bond.


Ex-Canadian Mountie accused of smuggling narwhal tusks pleads guilty

By Associated Press 3:40pm, September 28, 2016
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, via the official Twitter account @rcmpgrcpolice
A retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer accused of smuggling narwhal tusks pled guilty in federal court in Maine to 10 money-laundering counts.

U.S. prosecutors said Gregory Logan, of St. John, New Brunswick, smuggled 250 tusks--worth $2 million--across the border into Maine in false compartments in his vehicle. Narwhals are medium-sized whales known for spiral tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. They are protected by the U.S. and Canada.

Logan entered the pleas Wednesday. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for each count. No sentencing date was set.

Logan was charged along with two U.S. residents.

Andrew Zarauskas, of Union, New Jersey, was convicted and sentenced to 33 months. Charges against Jay Conrad, of Lakeland, Tennessee, were dismissed.


Debate reaches 84M viewers, topping record

By Associated Press 11:17am, September 28, 2016
The showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most-watched presidential debate ever, with 84 million viewers.

The Nielsen company said viewership, over 13 different networks, toppled a record that had stood for 36 years. The previous record for presidential debate viewership was the 80.6 million people who saw the only debate in 1980 between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and his Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.

At the time of the Carter-Reagan debate, the U.S. population was 226 million. Now, it is 324 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

No debate since 1980 had exceeded 70 million viewers.


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