Bonded by Tragedy
The murder of policemen changes entire cities. It changed little Georgetown, too, but in a way no one ever expected.
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At about 5 p.m. on September 1, 2009, a Georgetown police vehicle carrying Patrolman Chad Spicer and Corporal Shawn Brittingham sped down Bedford Street toward The Circle. A dispatch had directed them to look for a Chrysler Sebring with three suspects in a shooting at a McDonald’s on U.S. 113.
Brittingham and Spicer were not only partners, they were best friends. They had known each other since grade school, when they began to dream of being Georgetown police officers. They were also superb at their jobs. Spicer had spent three years as a cop in Bridgeville, where he had become an expert in drug interdiction. He had pulled thousands of dollars in drug money off of the streets.
As the two officers approached The Circle, the Sebring also approached. Brittingham followed the car, making a sharp right onto East Market Street, then a left onto King Street, toward Kimmeytown, a mostly Latino enclave east of The Circle.
Spicer loved the neighborhood. Though he spoke no Spanish, he knew nearly every family by name. On slow days, he’d sometimes hop out of his patrol car to hit pop flies to the kids on the streets.
According to the police report, Brittingham watched the Sebring approach the corner of King and Rosa, then rammed the car to make it stop. The driver, Christopher Reeves, immediately ran away.
Police say Derrick Powell of Cumberland, Maryland, in the back seat, turned to face the patrol car, aimed a 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun at Spicer, then fired.
“Shots fired, Suscom. My partner’s been shot. 908-3’s been shot. My partner’s shot.”
Georgetown Police Chief William Topping heard the words on his police radio. It’s Shawn, he thought.
He sped toward the scene. By the time he arrived, 10 minutes later, Spicer and Brittingham, with a fragment of the bullet that hit Spicer in his neck, had been taken to Beebe Medical Center in Lewes.
Topping shut Kimmeytown down, then surveyed the scene. More than 100 police had come from all over Sussex and Kent.
Spicer’s mother, Ruth Ann, also arrived at the scene.
“She approached me and asked me if it was Chad,” Topping says. “I told her that it was.” Topping had a state trooper escort Mrs. Spicer to Beebe. Topping boarded a helicopter that circled over Kimmeytown, trying to find the suspects.
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