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Elderly couple shot and killed at veterans cemetery; suspect dies of gunshot wound after shootout with police

An elderly couple was shot and killed at a veterans cemetery in Bear, Delaware, and a suspect was later shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire with Delaware State Police.

An 85-year-old woman was pronounced dead at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Friday, state police said, and an 86-year-old man died of his injuries at the hospital on Saturday. The couple has not been identified pending notification of next of kin.

Troopers responded to the scene shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday and found the couple. Initial reports indicated someone had been seen running into a nearby wooded area right after the shots were fired.

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Nearly an hour after arriving, troopers saw a man running into a wooded area in a nearby subdivision and secured the area. Just after noon, the suspect and officers exchanged gunfire. Several hours later, troopers entered the wooded area and found the suspect dead of a gunshot wound.

“It is undetermined at this time if the gunshot wound was self-inflicted or as a result of the earlier exchange of gunfire,” state police said, adding that an autopsy would make that determination.

Several roads were closed and residents evacuated during the incident, state police said.

State police identified the suspect as Sheldon C. Francis, 29, of Middletown. The couple was from Elkton, Maryland, they said.

State police have not released any information about a possible motive for the shooting. The investigation is ongoing, and police asked that anyone with information is asked to contact Det. M. Ryde at 302-698-8557.

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[Featured image: Sheldon C. Francis in 2009 photo/Delaware State Police]