44-year-old Richard Deskis, a 17-year veteran of the Delaware State Police, is recovering at home Thursday after being shot in the arm Wednesday afternoon while assisting Wilmington Police.
The shooting happened shortly before 4:00 p.m. at 24th and Market Streets.
State police say Deskis, who is assigned to the Delaware State Police Troop 1 Retail Theft Unit, was assisting Wilmington Police in investigating a parked black Dodge sedan that appeared to contain stolen merchandise.
Witnesses say Deskis was interviewing a woman when gunshots were fired from an unknown location toward the trooper and officers.
Neighbor Doris Lacewell said it looked like officers were going to release the woman when two shots rang out.
"They were letting her go when the shots were fired. They had to tell her to run," Lacewell said. "I seen one of the officers fall to the ground and then some other officers went down on their knees and pulled their guns."
"I was getting my son down, telling my son to get down and covering up my head," said witness Erica Beatty.
Deskis was hit in the right arm. Officers were able to shield him and give first aid until EMS technicians arrived and took him to Christiana Hospital.
"We are following some leads. We have talked to several individuals, but we have not charged anyone at this time. We're conducting interviews at the scene in order to progress this investigation," said Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack.
Deskis was treated at Christiana then released at 7:30 p.m. The trooper, his wife and other family members were escorted home by Delaware State Police.
"One message that he wanted to put out there [is] that he appreciates the thoughts and prayers of the public and the citizens during this time," Shavack said.
The 17-year veteran, a husband and father, was described as an outstanding law enforcement officer with a sense of humor.
Governor Jack Markell says he witnessed that humor firsthand during his 20-minute visit inside the hospital emergency room.
"As he said, he couldn't salute, but when he can he would, but he was really doing very well, he had a sense of humor and he's doing very well," Markell said.
State Police said the trooper has never experienced anything like this before. They wouldn't go into detail about his duties within the Troop 1 Retail Theft Unit, which serves North Wilmington to the Pennsylvania state line.
Deskis is the fourth law enforcement officer to be injured in the line of duty in Wilmington this year.
"These guys and women do unbelievable work on behalf of people in this state," said Markell. "They put themselves in harm's way to keep us safe. And I think for now the most important thing is for all of us to be grateful to all of them for what they do."