A 42-year-old Rehoboth Beach man remains in critical but stable condition with a gunshot to the chest, according to police, after they say led police on a chase Feb. 19 and then threatened a trooper with a shovel.
Keith M. Schueller – wanted by police in connection with theft charges – was shot in the chest after he swung a five-foot shovel at a trooper in a threatening manner, said Sgt. Paul Shavack of the Delaware State Police. Schueller was taken to Beebe Medical Center and later moved to Christiana Hospital; he is in custody of the Department of Corrrections.
The owner of a Plantation Road farm next to where the shooting occurred said it is a good thing riding lessons were running behind schedule when police chased a man across the property before shooting him nearby.
"The bus was 15 minutes late that day or else they would've been in the arena, and it would've been a whole different scenario," said Charles Pollard, who lives on a five-acre farm off Plantation Road. The farm is used by Southern Delaware Therapeutic & Recreational Horseback Riding program for lessons.
Pollard said two students were in the barn getting their horses ready when their instructor heard an accident at the intersection. Outside, Schueller had crashed into another car during a police chase that had started on Postal Lane and wound into Sandy Brae before the crash. The riding instructor watched police chase Schueller onto Pollard's property near the riding arena and to a neighbor's barn, where Schueller picked up a shovel and raised it at police, Pollard said.
"She told me she screamed at him to surrender and give up," Pollard said.
When she heard the gunshot, Pollard said, the instructor loaded students and other adults onto a bus and they left the property. The instructor could not be reached for comment.
"Everybody did the right thing and the end result was that innocent people were safe," he said. "I didn't realize the layers of it until I spoke with her last night."
Schueller was charged with theft greater than $1,500 of a victim 62 or older in connection with an incident Feb. 8 in Rehoboth Beach. According to court documents, Schueller went to a relative's home and took $2,000 cash kept in the home for emergencies. He told his relative that "he had relapsed on drugs and was very upset," documents state.
Schueller also faces theft of less than $1,500 in connection with a Rehoboth Beach incident Feb. 16. Court records state Schueller filled up his Grand Cherokee with $82.53 worth of gas and drove off after his debit card was denied for payment.
A police account of the chase says a trooper had spotted Schueller driving westbound on Postal Lane when the trooper activated his lights for Schueller to stop. Instead of pulling over, Schueller sped away. Police said he drove over a couple of properties in the Sandy Brae development before crashing into another vehicle at the intersection of Postal Lane and Plantations Road.
A 70-year-old Lewes man was not injured in the collision with his 2007 Chevrolet Silverado.
After the crash, Schueller got out of his vehicle and fled northwest on foot through a cornfield. A second trooper who responded to the scene deployed his Taser at Schueller, but it was ineffective; troopers chased him behind a residence located in the 19000 block of Plantation Road and cornered him at a barn, Shavack said. A trooper discharged one round of ammunition that hit Schueller in the chest, he said.
Trooper First Class Brett Cordrey was the trooper who shot Schueller. He is a three-year veteran of the Delaware State Police assigned to Troop 7 in Lewes. He was not injured and has been placed on administrative leave according to Divisional Policy, pending the outcome of the investigation, Shavack said.
Detectives from the Delaware State Police Homicide Unit responded to the scene and are conducting the investigation.
Schueller's brother, Albert, said the family is concerned about Keith's condition. They have not received any updates from doctors or hospital.
"It's cruel to keep us in the dark about his condition," Albert Schueller said. "I understand that we shouldn't be able to visit him due to the legal issues hanging over this, but there is no reason to not share information about his medical condition with his family. We are all worried sick over his prognosis."
Christiana Hospital officials said they have no record of Schueller when called for an update on his condition Feb. 20. Jason Miller, spokesman for the Attorney General's office, said Schueller is in critical but stable condition.
Albert said Keith has struggled with addiction throughout his life. He had been working low-wage jobs and was recently "clean, sober and in a good frame of mind," he said. However, last Saturday, Keith missed an arranged meeting with his estranged children – the first since 2005.
"(He) dropped off of everyone's radar and didn't resurface until the shooting," Albert said.