A man shooting at targets in the Victoria Forest neighborhood of Selbyville — in the woods behind a home that sits 100 feet from the Selbyville Middle School playground and soccer field — sent two local schools into a low-level lockdown just after 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16.

According to police, officers called to a home in Selbyville following reports of shots fired near the school grounds. The Indian River School District (IRSD) put SMS and Philip C. Showell Elementary School on a low-level lockdown at the request of Selbyville Police Chief Brian Wilson.

Four Delaware State Police troopers and two Selbyville Police Department officers responded to the scene. The private home was secured, and the DSP arrested a 37-year-old man, Derek Trossbach, according to police.

Selbyville Police Department PFC Liana Dodson, who was only on her second day back on the job following a work-related injury, soon issued an all-clear.

Wilson cited the fact action by Dodson and SMS school resource officer (SRO) Tyler Bare in the arrest of Trossbach, found shooting in the woods behind Selbyville Middle School on Thursday afternoon. In a follow-up interview with Coastal Point, Wilson said Bare “took down the suspect and helped take him into custody” in the woods behind SMS.

Wilson said Trossbach was shooting at a target on a tree at shoulder height.

He credited Dodson as the charging officer who then assisted Bare.

According to Wilson, charges for Trossbach include: possession and discharge of a deadly weapon in a school zone; reckless endangerment; possession of a firearm; and disorderly conduct.

The suspect was allegedly intoxicated, he said.

“When you add alcohol together with firearms, it is never a good mix,” said Wilson. “Our officers all did a great job. Anytime you have a school involved, you are going to see the mass response we had with Selbyville PD and with the Delaware State Police.”

Wilson said a handgun was recovered at the scene, along with a number of shell casings.

“He was in close proximity to the school,” said the chief. “We gathered he was actually in the woods more behind the SMS school property, rather than behind his own property,” he noted, correcting some initial reports from witnesses. “We located him and the gun with fresh shell casings right behind the football field.”

The IRSD responded quickly.

“We put Selbyville Middle School and Philip C. Showell on a low-level lockdown,” said David Maull, a spokesperson for the IRSD. “At the behest of the Selbyville police, who had this incident going on, we initiated the school response, and that was lifted 10 minutes later.”

“There were kids on the playground at Showell, and we got them back in the school very, very quickly,” said the IRSD spokesman. “On a low-level lockdown, the teachers are teaching, but nobody is allowed in or out of the building. We got the all-clear about 2:20 p.m., and both schools sent a notification to the parents very quickly. All the schools were safe at all times. No access to the building is permitted, and nobody can get in from the outside. Kids can still go to lunch or to class.”

IRSD and Selbyville Middle School parents and caregivers received an alert from the school system at 2:55 p.m.: “This is an important message for SMS families. Due to police activity in the area, SMS was placed on a low-level lockdown for a short period of time on Thursday afternoon. All students and staff were safe, and instruction continued during this incident. The lockdown was lifted after approximately 10 minutes.”

South Bethany Police Chief Jason Lovins, who has two children at SMS, was monitoring the situation closely by radio and said there was no threat to the students at the middle school. He said he was pleased at the rapid response by Selbyville police and said he trusted Bare to handle the situation at the local school.

Suspect’s father, neighbors respond to incident

Roy Gould, who lives in a neighboring home, said there were gunshots and four DSP cruisers responded quickly, along with Selbyville police.

“The son was in there alone and in the back of the home facing toward our woods,” said Gould. “Now I see that both of his parents have just returned and are home with him. It is not a safe area to be shooting a gun.”

“What if children had been hurt?” asked Lee Monick, a neighbor who has lived in Victoria Forest for 18 years. “This is just a few days since the last school shooting and really unfortunate to be three days after those three students were killed at Michigan State.”

“The Selbyville Middle School is not even 100 feet away, and sometimes kids are playing soccer after school on those fields,” she added.

There are 57 homes in the Victoria Forest neighborhood. Monick noted that the community is usually very quiet.

“It’s kind of dumb, because there are several shooting ranges right in our area,” she added. “The (Selbyville police) have their own target practice range very close to here. I have a girlfriend who uses the shooting range in Gumboro,” said Monick. “You can hear the state police taking target practice. We also have some farmland nearby where hunting is permitted and we can occasionally hear hunters, but otherwise there should be no gunfire.”

“Now my son is going to lose his license and his gun,” said a man at the home, who asked not to be further identified. “It is going to cost thousands of dollars to get him out of this, and somebody really could have gotten hurt.”

“I am not responsible for this,” said the suspect’s father. “My son is going to be charged as an adult. And I really don’t care, because he made his own decision. It is all a misunderstanding by a stupid kid, and the action is over. These children are adults, and he is the one who will have to apologize, because it was not me who did it.”

Staff Reporter

Mike has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern and is a 25-year member of the National Press Club. He has won four national writing awards for editorial work. He is a native of McLean, Va., and lives in Millville.