A veteran Delaware police officer has died following an assault after he was dispatched to the home of a person suspected in an attack of an elderly couple, officials said Wednesday.
A suspect in the attacks is in custody, the Delaware State Police said.
Delmar Police Corporal Keith Heacook, a 22-year-veteran, passed away due to injuries sustained, Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said.
“This is heartbreaking news. The Delmar community and the entire State of Delaware lost a public servant today. Tracey and I are praying for Cpl. Heacook, his family, and all of his fellow law enforcement officers,” Governor Carney said.
The initial 911 call about a fight in progress came shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday in the southern Delaware town along the Maryland border.
The caller reported someone “being disorderly, fighting with other residents of the house and destroying items inside the residence,” a state police news release said. Shortly thereafter, someone from a property across the street called 911 to report “he and his wife had been assaulted by a male subject” who had left the scene, the release said.
The suspect was later identified as Randon Wilkerson, 30.
The specifics of what happened were not immediately available, but Heacook was dispatched to a home in a residential area in the town of 1,800 people, where Wilkerson confronted him, state police said.
“Dispatchers began checking on Cpl. Heacook and received no response,” the news release said.
Heacook was found inside the home and unconscious, the release said. He had suffered “significant head injuries,” police said. Officers with the Delmar Police Department, Laurel Police Department, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and Delaware State Police responded.
Laurel officers pulled the officer from the home and performed first aid, and paramedics took Heacook to a TidalHealth facility in Salisbury, Maryland, before he was taken to a shock trauma center in Baltimore.
Multiple people at the home where the initial 911 call was made were taken into custody, state police said without elaborating.
According to police, Wilkerson knocked on the back door of an elderly couple’s home, entered the house, repeatedly hit a 73-year-old man with a glass object before assaulting a 76-year-old woman with the same object, the police news release said.
The victims were taken to local hospitals with undisclosed injuries. The injured woman was later taken to the Baltimore shock trauma center, police said.
Authorities located Wilkerson behind the home from where the first 911 call was made. He was taken into custody without incident, police said.
Wilkerson was charged with first-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of possessing a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, first-degree burglary, third-degree assault and making terroristic threats, according to the police news release.
He was arraigned and is being held at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, Delaware, on $451,000 bail.
In her statement, Attorney General Jennings said the charges for Wilkerson will be upgraded to include murder.
“He will be held accountable for his heinous crimes against Cpl. Heacook, against the elderly couple he viciously assaulted, and against Delmar and our state. The DOJ has been working together with Delmar and Delaware State Police, and all are doing everything in our power to ensure a successful prosecution,” Jennings said.
“These are the worst moments any of us can imagine: mourning the loss of a member of our law enforcement family. Cpl. Keith Heacook served his department and his community honorably and faithfully for more than two decades — a family man, a public servant, and a protector of his community until his final days,” the attorney general said.