A Delaware man suspected of fatally shooting an elderly Maryland couple as they were visiting their son’s grave earlier this month died from police gunfire during a shootout about two hours after the crime, authorities have confirmed.
About four hours after the shootout, police found the body of Sheldon Francis, 29, of Middletown, in a wooded area near Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear, the site where authorities say Francis had shot Paul Marino, 86, and Lidia Marino, 85, of Elkton, Md., in a seemingly random attack, The Newark Post of Delaware reported.
Responding officers spotted Francis running into the wooded area less than an hour after the killings, FOX 45 of Baltimore reported.
The shootout between Francis and police left an armored Delaware State Police “BearCat” vehicle covered with damage from bullets, according to the Post.
The suspect’s gunfire toward the vehicle sparked the shootout, according to FOX 45.
“Upon arriving to the location, the BearCat began immediately taking on a significant amount of gunshot rounds from Francis, resulting in an exchange of gunfire taking place between members of SORT and Francis,” a state police spokesperson told the Post, referring to the state police Special Operations Response Team.
“During the exchange of gunfire, Francis sustained a gunshot wound by the Delaware State Police, which resulted in his death,” the spokesperson continued. “Francis was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
Francis’ body took a long time to find because police did not know his exact location or physical condition, so they needed to proceed cautiously as they searched the wooded area, the Post reported.
The Marinos were shot in the cemetery about 10:15 a.m. May 8, with Lidia Marino dying at the scene and Paul Marino, a U.S. Army veteran, dying in a hospital the next day, authorities have said. According to their twin sons, Paul Jr. and Ray Marino, the couple were visiting the grave of their son Anthony, who died in 2017 at age 54.
The devoted parents visited their late son’s burial site almost daily, the surviving sons have said. Days after they died, the parents were buried in the same family plot as their son, the Post reported.
The couple had been married for 61 years, the Cecil Whig of Maryland reported.
No motive for the killings has been determined and there is no indication that the Marinos knew Francis, but an investigation is continuing, authorities told the Post.
No police or bystanders were injured during the shootout. Responding officers were placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Delaware State Police at 302-698-8557.