A man accused of shooting three Wilmington police officers Wednesday night was found dead inside an apartment following an all-night standoff with police, according to Wilmington Police.
Wilmington Police said 31-year-old Bernard Goodwyn of Smyrna opened fire on officers, who were responding to a domestic dispute at 24th and North Market Streets after receiving a 911 call at 9:29 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, 2021. The officers, who were shot, were hospitalized and are expected to recover.
The shootings prompted a 12-hour standoff with Goodwyn and a shelter-in-place order for area residents.
A neighbor said she heard an estimated 10 to 15 shots Wednesday night and looked outside to see what was going on.
"I saw a Wilmington police officer carrying another Wilmington police officer. He laid him down on the street in front of his police car; it looked like they started to work on him," she said, adding "that other officers then rushed in with shields to protect their grounded colleague," she said.
Hours later, officers made entry into the King Plaza Apartments where they found Goodwyn dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers also recovered a firearm at the scene.
Shortly before SWAT teams and major apparatus left the scene, sources told WDEL one person was also seen being led from the scene in handcuffs. That person's role in the incident remains unclear.
Earlier, at 6:30 a.m., a number of police officers, some wearing tactical gear, made their way up a Wilmington Fire Department ladder truck and into a third-floor apartment. A short time later, officers emerged with a small child and a woman. Their potential involvement in the incident remains unclear.
Wilmington Police officers expected to recover
All three officers, who were shot, were hospitalized in stable condition. WDEL has learned one of the officers is now home while two others remain hospitalized.
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said he got a call from the police chief late Wednesday night.
"At that time, we did not know how badly anybody was injured, and so the worst of the worst goes through your mind," he said.
All three are expected to make a full recovery. Purzycki told WDEL he's grateful for that.
"I went from deeply distressed to almost immediate gratitude that nobody was killed, and that these young men are all going to be fine going forward," he told WDEL. "These are young men, and I'm struck by what we demand of them, and it's important to realize that they're inches away from a terrible eventuality if things go the wrong way."
Jamie Leonard, president of the Delaware State Lodge FOP, said he expected one of the hospitalized officers to be released potentially later Thursday while the other could be released as early as Friday. The officers have not been identified, but two have served the department since 2014 while one joined the force in 2018, Wilmington Police said.
In a tweet, Purzycki said he visited with two of the officers Thursday morning and spoke to the third by telephone.
"They are in good spirits & are being well cared for by wonderful medical professionals and are with their supportive families," he said.
My thanks and appreciation to those who have expressed their good wishes and prayers for the speedy recovery of three @WPDPIO officers who were shot last night while responding to an incident on N. Market Street. (1/5)#WilmDE #netDE— Mayor Mike Purzycki (@MikePurzycki) June 3, 2021
I visited with two of the officers this morning & spoke to the other officer by phone. They are in good spirits & are being well cared for by wonderful medical professionals and are with their supportive families. (2/5)#WilmDE #netDE— Mayor Mike Purzycki (@MikePurzycki) June 3, 2021
Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy has not spoken publicly about the incident.
Leonard told WDEL the officers' shootings is a "punch in the gut."
"The general belief that we operate, and I guess it's probably anywhere in law enforcement, is that that type of stuff doesn't happen here, but when you get the text messages, and the phone calls, that start coming in from people up and down the state to say 'three Wilmington officers were just shot responding to a call,' it hits home for you that this stuff does happen here, and no community is specifically immune to it."
Domestic situations can be among some of the most dangerous situations for officers.
"More often than not, you find that in these situations...it's a win-at-all costs, and sometimes that cost is causing physical harm or attempting to take the life of police officers, in an effort to win at all costs," he said. "Was that this type of situation where a domestic disturbance turned into a win-at-all costs situation, and in such, you see three talented, community-committed police officers get shot and by the grace of God their injuries are minor. But it's very eye-opening in the sense of what could have been and what could have occurred. That phone call last night could have been very different."
He adds, nationally, officers shot in the line of duty has risen by 20% compared to this time last year.
"I think it would be foolish for me to say it has nothing to do with it because the data doesn't support that. The data supports what happened in Wilmington last night is consistent with the trend you see across the country and that has been uptick in violence towards police officers...what occurred last night is consistent with national trends, and unfortunately, being consistent with national trends, it's indicative that it's going to happen again," Leonard said.
Purzycki said this incident illustrates that anything can happen during an officer's shift.
"I think we ought to be a whole lot more sensitive to what they go through each and every day. It's not just a matter of getting shot--which is terrible in and of itself--but just some confrontations with some pretty rough customers. It's something most people couldn't even begin to tolerate for minutes in a day let alone an entire shift," Purzycki said in an interview with WDEL.
He further touted the efforts of emergency leaders and their handling of the situation.
"[Wilmington Police] Chief Tracy & his officers, assisted by the [Wilmington Fire] Chief Looney and the Wilmington Fire Department, along with our other partner police agencies managed a very tense and dangerous situation throughout the night," he wrote. " Protecting and defending the @cityofwilmde and its people is a tremendously difficult task, but our officers and their law enforcement partners do an outstanding job," Purzycki said on Twitter.
Chief Tracy & his officers, assisted by the Chief Looney and the Wilmington Fire Department, along with our other partner police agencies managed a very tense and dangerous situation throughout the night. (3/5)#WilmDE #netDE— Mayor Mike Purzycki (@MikePurzycki) June 3, 2021
Other elected officials also offered prayers and well-wishes for the injured officers.
U.S. Senator Tom Carper stopped at Christiana Hospital to visit the officers.
"I am grateful to our law enforcement officers for their heroic actions," Carper said in a released statement. "Today, I visited the hospital and was relieved to hear that the three officers wounded by gunfire are recovering. With the tragic passing of Cpl. Keith Heacook fresh on our minds, this is another grim reminder of the danger faced by law enforcement every day. I am grateful for their bravery and sacrifice to keep Delaware safe."
"Terrible news in Wilmington. I'm praying for a full and speedy recovery for all 3 officers and the victims," said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester on Twitter.
Terrible news in Wilmington. I'm praying for a full and speedy recovery for all 3 officers and the victims. https://t.co/769UlJRWOs— Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (@RepLBR) June 3, 2021
"I am praying for the wounded officers of the Wilmington Police Department and thankful that they are in stable condition, on the path toward a speedy recovery. I’m grateful for their service and thinking about the first responders and the residents of Wilmington impacted by this tragic incident," said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons in a written statement.
“I am grateful to our law enforcement officers for their heroic actions last night that went well into this morning. Today, I visited the hospital and was relieved to hear that the three officers wounded by gunfire are recovering. With the tragic passing of Cpl. Keith Heacook fresh on our minds, this is another grim reminder of the danger faced by law enforcement every day. I am grateful for their bravery and sacrifice to keep Delaware safe," said Delaware's senior U.S. Senator Tom Carper.
"Tracey and I are praying for the Wilmington PD officers shot in the line of duty, their families, and their fellow members of Delaware’s law enforcement community," said Gov. John Carney on Twitter.