By Kimberly Eiten

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A hero’s goodbye for Delaware State Trooper Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, a Maryland native who was killed in the line of duty last week.

Thousands of people waited in the rain to remember the 32-year-old as he was laid to rest Friday in Wilmington.

His wife, Louise Cummings, and 5-year-old daughter were among those mourning the man who they say wore his badge proudly, and died while serving the community he loved to protect.

Cpl. Ballard was shot and killed last week after approaching a vehicle with two suspicious people outside a Wawa in Bear, Delaware.

Burgon Sealy Jr. fatally shot Cpl. Ballard and was ultimately killed by police after a lengthy standoff in his parents’ home, several miles away from the crime scene, which lasted into the next morning.

Bagpipes cut through the sound of pouring rain Friday, and there was a sea of uniforms under Delaware’s gray skies.

“Everybody from Delaware and from the law enforcement community across our region and country are here today in the pouring rain to pay our respects,” said Senator Chris Coons.

But even now, as Cpl. Ballard is honored and laid to rest, the motive for his murder is a mystery.

Police have been investigating whether the shooter targeted Cpl. Ballard because he was a police officer. WJZ also asked if investigators are considering terrorism as a possible motive. Police say they’re looking at all leads.

Cpl. Ballard was a 2003 graduate of Bowie High School in Maryland. He graduated from Delaware State in 2007 and from the police academy in 2009.

His wife told the Associated Press they enjoyed spending time at the ocean, going to the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach and listening to a calypso band or sitting on the boardwalk to people-watch.

Someday, she said, he hoped to be governor.

A memorial fund for Ballard’s family has been set up at the Delaware State Police Federal Credit Union.

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(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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