UPDATED: For the second time this week, Delaware State Police confronted an armed man at his home in a standoff that led to the man’s death.
Following on an incident last weekend in which a former California Highway Patrol officer had threatened a neighbor and then shot at police and was then himself fatally shot, police went out Wednesday night, about 8:28 p.m., to an Oak Orchard home in response to a 911 call reporting that 58-year-old Gary L Bliss was threatening suicide and that he had cut his wrist in an attempt to harm himself.
According to police, when troopers arrived, they learned that Bliss had left the residence and entered a shed on the rear of the property. When the troopers exited their marked patrol vehicles, Bliss came out of the shed and began approaching the uniformed troopers, they said.
“The suspect was yelling at the troopers while brandishing a handgun and pointing it at them,” police said.
The DSP reported that troopers began to verbally negotiate with Bliss, asking him to drop the weapon. He refused to put the weapon down and began firing upon the troopers, they said.
According to police, the troopers, who were in fear for their safety and the safety of the surrounding residents, then discharged their issued handguns at Bliss. Eight total rounds were fired by the troopers.
Once Bliss was struck, the troopers began to immediately render first aid. Medical personnel, who were staging nearby, then responded in and took over life-saving measures. Bliss died at the scene, as a result of his injuries. Bliss’ wife was in the residence at the time of the shooting and was not injured, police said.
As a result of this incident, the troopers involved in the case have been placed on administrative duty pending a review. Both troopers were hired by the State Police in 2007 and graduated from the academy in February in 2008, according to the DSP. They are both currently assigned to Troop 4 in Georgetown in a patrol capacity.
Bliss' handgun has been identified as a high-air-pressured Crossman 22/10 Pellet Pistol, a .45-caliber replica. This weapon had a distinctive sound when fired that was heard by neighbors and the subject’s wife inside the residence, police said.
Troopers confirmed that the state police responded to the residence in question once in 2002, in reference to a subject with a gun attempting to commit suicide. In that incident, the subject was also Bliss. At the conclusion of that investigation, Bliss was committed to the Rockford Center.
The names of the troopers involved in the incident are currently being withheld per divisional policy and were to be released later today. Bliss' body has been turned over to the state medical examiner for an autopsy.
None of the troopers involved were injured.