Rodney West, 53, was arrested in Montgomery County, Md.


U.S. marshals have arrested a suspect in connection with a fatal shooting at a Dover school.

Rodney West, 53, was taken into custody in Montgomery County, Md., Dover Police Department spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said in a Thursday press release.

West is accused in the Aug. 28 shooting, which took the life of 39-year-old Derrick Combs of Dover. Combs was found Tuesday night on the campus of the Towne Point Elementary School, the victim of several gunshot wounds. He was dead when police arrived, Hoffman said.

West works at the school as a custodian, Capital School District spokeswoman Candace McCarthy said.

Hoffman said he could not give additional details as to how West was developed as a suspect or how the federal marshals were able to locate and arrest him.

Dover police are awaiting West’s extradition to Delaware, where he will be charged with first-degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm in a safe school zone.

McCarthy said teachers were on hand at the Towne Point school Wednesday as students were told to stay home. Counselors were on hand Thursday to talk to students if needed, and there is an added security presence as well.

“We are saddened that the activity outside of the school between adults was brought on to our doorstep,” McCarthy said in a statement. “We will be here to support our families, students, and staff. We grieve for the unnecessary loss of life.”


Capital School District officials on Aug. 29 closed the Towne Point Elementary School following a fatal shooting on the school grounds.

Dover Police Department spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said the shooting took place the night of Aug. 28 and there were no students at the east Dover campus at the time.

The case began at about 9:59 p.m. Tuesday when police went to the school to investigate a report of shots having been fired. Once there they found 39-year-old Derrick Combs lying on the ground, Hoffman said.

Combs had been shot several times and was dead when police arrived, he said.

During their preliminary investigation detectives learned enough to believe this was not a random act and there is no threat to the school, located at 629 Buckson Drive, Hoffman said.

As a result of the shooting, however, Capital School District Superintendent Dan Shelton ordered the school closed on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

The district is working closely with Dover police as they investigate the shooting, Shelton said.

“We have no reason to believe that there is currently any potential threat against any of our students or staff,” Shelton said in a statement. “This is an ongoing investigation by the Dover Police Department.

“As you know, the Capital School District takes student and staff safety very seriously and are saddened by the unfortunate events that may take place in our neighborhoods.

“We also strive to keep our families informed of events in and around our schools,” Shelton said, adding he expects an increased police presence around the school when classes resume Aug. 30.”

Police are continuing their investigation; anyone with information on this crime is asked to call Dover police at 736-7130. Tips may be left anonymously.

Tips may also be submitted to law enforcement through Delaware Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333 or online at