Dozens of Delaware State Police troopers swarmed a New Castle-area gas station Thursday morning after a 32-year-old man was found dead behind the station’s convenience store.
Police cordoned off access to Super Gas, located at 3006 New Castle Ave. – also known as Route 9 – for most of the morning. That’s where investigators could be seen looking through the parking lot, including near several blue trash bins.
A woman, who asked not to be identified, told Delaware Online/The News Journal that she came to the Super Gas around 8 a.m. to fill up her tank and found the body.
She said she saw the man on the ground but didn’t realize he was dead because she saw another man trying to talk to him.
“But you could tell he was unresponsive,” she said. “Then the man starts taking the (dead) man’s stuff, like his identification and belongings and putting it in his Fanny Pack.”
The woman said she was shocked – she’s seen people who have died from overdoses before, but not someone apparently stealing from them.
“This is an extreme. You’re literally taking someone’s belongings and they’re deceased,” she said. “He literally did everything right in front of my face.”
The woman said the man was shot in the back. Police confirmed Thursday night he had been shot.
As of 10:30 a.m., Thursday he was still lying face down behind the gas station.
Police focused their investigation around the body and could be seen looking on the ground for evidence.
The entire gas station, as well as the back of the Superlodge motel, was blocked off with crime scene tape. More than a half-dozen state police cars were in the area, with nearly two dozen troopers and detectives around the gas station.
The woman who didn’t want to be identified said she lives nearby. She and others said police were called to the area Wednesday night for reports of shots fired but apparently didn’t find anything.
For hours, her car remained within the crime scene. She said she was supposed to go to work but had no way to get there because police wouldn’t let her move the vehicle. Shortly after 10 a.m., she was told she could move it.
Another woman, who said she grew up in Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood, said this area is “so much worse” than where she grew up. She says several motels in the area contribute to crime, violence and drug use here.
Police had several evidence markers set up on the ground toward the front of the gas station convenience store. One was located near gas pump 1.
Detectives also investigated an area in front of the McDonald’s restaurant that is located next door to the gas station. What appeared to be a bullet hole pierced the awning of the restaurant near the drive-thru entrance.
Police said they will release the man’s name once his family has been notified.
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Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, [email protected] or Twitter @eparra3.