9 hours after woman shot dead outside Smyrna Middle School, police investigating another crime

Isabel Hughes
Delaware News Journal

About nine hours after a 38-year-old woman was shot dead in the parking lot of Smyrna Middle School Tuesday morning, the city police department and Delaware State Police were called to another crime scene.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m., Delaware State Police emailed a notice about "increased police activity" on Monrovia Avenue in Smyrna. Cpl. Jason Hatchell, a spokesman for the agency, said the departments are conducting a "criminal investigation" in the area.

Monrovia Avenue between East Commerce Street and Route 13 is closed, Hatchell said.

It's not known what police are investigating, but the notice comes following a violent day in the city.

BACKGROUND:'People are going to be shook for a while': Woman killed outside Smyrna Middle School

Around 10:15 a.m., police were called to Smyrna Middle School for reports of a shooting. There, they learned a 47-year-old man had been arguing with a family member when he pulled out a gun and shot her.

The man, whom police have not yet identified, then fled. Delaware State Police quickly found him, but he led them on a chase.

The chase ended in Maryland, where state police there pursued him until he lost control of his car and hit a tree.

He was airlifted to a Maryland hospital, where he’s being treated, police said.

The incident, which kept Smyrna schools locked down for most of Tuesday, left many community members shaken.

It’s the city’s first homicide since the remains of 3-year-old Emma Cole were found in Little Lass Fields, located across from Smyrna Middle School, in September 2019.

“This is a small, tight-knit community and a lot of the community events are organized through the school district, so it hits extra close to home,” said Smyrna police spokesman Lt. Brian Donner. 

“People are going to be shook for a while, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not common to have this happen every day, that’s for sure.”

RELATED:Another person shot in Wilmington Tuesday afternoon

District Superintendent Patrik Williams said Wednesday is a prescheduled deep cleaning throughout the district, so students won’t be in school. He said he didn’t know whether any students witnessed the shooting, but the district will be making counseling services available to students and their families.

Police said they will release more information about the suspect and the victim as their investigation progresses. They did not say whether Tuesday evening's investigation is related to the morning shooting.

Send story tips or ideas to Isabel Hughes at ihughes@delawareonline.com or 302-324-2785. For all things breaking news, follow her on Twitter at @izzihughes_