Delmar, DE – Delmar Police Department (DPD) Corporal Keith Heacook died in the line of duty on Wednesday after he was viciously attacked by a suspect while responding to a report of a disturbance on April 25.
The violent assault occurred at around 5:12 a.m. at the Yorkshire Estates community in the 11000-block of Buckingham Drive, after the DPD received a report that 30-year-old Randon Wilkerson was destroying objects and “fighting with other residents” inside the home, the Delaware State Police (DSP) said in a press release.
Shortly after the initial call came in, the DPD received a report from a neighbor across the street who said he and his wife had been attacked by a male suspect who then fled the scene, the DSP said.
Cpl. Heacook arrived at the scene of the first call, where he was “met with a physical confrontation with Wilkerson” inside the residence, according to the DSP.
The police dispatcher repeatedly tried to check Cpl. Heacook’s status, but received no response over the radio.
The Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and a DSP trooper were then dispatched to the scene and arrived to find Cpl. Heacook unconscious inside the home, the DSP said.
Laurel Police Department (LPD) officers responded and helped perform first aid after police pulled the critically-injured corporal from the residence.
He had suffered “significant head injuries” and was rushed to TidalHealth in Salisbury before receiving a police escort to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, Maryland, the DSP said.
According to court documents, a witness said Wilkerson had repeatedly slammed his foot on the unconscious corporal’s head during the attack, the Salisbury Daily Times reported.
Investigators determined Wilkerson also allegedly attacked the elderly couple who live across the street from the location of the initial disturbance call, the DSP said.
The 73-year-old male victim told police Wilkerson was knocking at his back door, so he opened it to see what he wanted, according to the press release.
“The male victim was then assaulted as Wilkerson entered the house and then struck numerous times with a glass object,” the DSP said. “Wilkerson then repeatedly assaulted a 76-year-old female with the same object before fleeing the house.”
Both victims suffered “significant injury” during the attack and were rushed to local hospitals, according to the DSP.
They have since been identified as Steve and Judy Franklin, the Salisbury Daily Times reported.
The couple has been released from the hospital and they are recovering at home, DSP Maser Corporal Gary Fournier said on Wednesday.
A fundraising page established to help the Franklins during their recovery has raised over $20,000 so far.
Cpl. Heacook was on a ventilator on Sunday when doctors placed a shunt into his skull to help relieve the pressure on his brain, according to the Salisbury Daily Times.
He was pronounced clinically deceased on Wednesday afternoon, the DPD said during a press conference that day.
Cpl. Heacook remained on life support in order for his organs to be donated to others, DPD Chief Ivan Barkley told reporters.
“I need you to know that even with his sacrifice, he’s still a hero for someone,” Chief Barkley said.
“His last wish was granted,” The Community for Corporal Keith Heacook said in a Facebook post on Wednesday night. “To stay on life support until all of his organs were donated this evening.”
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings confirmed on Wednesday that Wilkerson will face upgraded charges – including murder – as a result of the corporal’s death, the Salisbury Daily Times reported.
“He will be held accountable for his heinous crimes against Cpl. Heacook, against the elderly couple he viciously attacked, and against Delmar and our entire state,” Jennings vowed.
Cpl. Heacook served the DPD for 22 years.
He decided to become a law enforcement officer after police rescued him from a ditch after a nearly-fatal crash nearly 30 years ago, according to the Salisbury Daily Times.
He was severely injured in the collision and was placed on a ventilator and given a 50 percent chance of survival.
“He wanted to become a police officer because he wanted to do the same – to help people,” recalled his family member, Kathy Heacook.
Cpl. Heacook leaves behind his wife, Susan, and his 12-year-old son from a previous relationship, the Salisbury Daily Times reported.
He is also survived by his siblings.
“[He was] a family man, a public servant and a protector of his community up through his final days,” Jennings told reporters. “We are here to mourn the loss of a man who devoted his entire career to the selfless cause of serving the rest of us. We are here to acknowledge law enforcement across this state who willingly face danger each and every day so that all of the rest of us don’t have to.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of the fallen corporal, according to the Associated Press.
“On behalf of all Marylanders, I extend my sincerest condolences to the Delmar Police Department, and to the loved ones of Corporal Keith Heacook, a 22-year veteran of the department who died after being assaulted in the line of duty,” Hogan said. “We owe so much to the brave law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities.”
GLFOP: 🔹 Blessed Are The Peacemakers 🔹
Corporal Keith Heacook
Delmar Police Department, Delaware
— SCFOP Lodge #31 (@scfop_31) April 29, 2021
Sad Update: Delmar, Delaware police just announced Officer Keith Heacook declared clinically dead after on duty severe beating Sunday. He responded to call of fight in progress where elderly couple severely beaten. Suspect already caught upgraded charges coming @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/6vOeg7eDsv
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) April 28, 2021
— Conall Smith (@Smith_Conall) April 29, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Delmar Police Department Corporal Keith Heacook, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Corporal Keith Heacook, your life mattered.