It’s been 50 years since Delaware State Trooper Robert Paris was killed in the line of duty, but to those who knew him, his death is still a shock.

“We got a call, shots fired up at the Dutch Village Motel and they believed a trooper was shot,” explained DSP Retired Major Raymond Deputy, who was one of the first responders on the scene. “We came up the highway, cut across the grass and the car that did the action was taking off and going south. We had to go to Bob Paris first.”

Paris had been struck during a shootout with a group of men who were suspected of stealing televisions from local motels. He died at the scene.

Delaware State Police Superintendent Nathaniel McQueen said during the 50th anniversary ceremony that the entire state was stunned by the tragedy.

“From the time I was a young trooper, it was one of those line of duty deaths that everybody remembers,” said McQueen.

Delaware’s governor at the time, Elbert N. Carvel, issued a statement expressing the state's grief.

“The death of Robert Paris is a misfortune of the greatest magnitude. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family and friends of this dedicated and courageous man who gave his life in the line of duty.”

A few dozen attended the 50th anniversary memorial at the Dutch Motel on South Dupont Highway in New Castle. Current and retired officers took a moment to pay tribute.

“Character of any organization is defined by its people,” said Lewis Schiliro, secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security for Delaware. “Fifty years ago today, that character was forever embedded at this location by Trooper Paris. Certainly that character is defined by courage, by his passion and most of all by his integrity. It’s really quite an honor to be here today to honor that memory and to understand that the character of the Delaware State Police really stands embedded in the memory of Trooper Paris.”

Lt. Thomas Brackin, president of the Delaware State Troopers Association said that while the equipment and technology within the department have changed, the close-knit community of the DSP remains the same.

“Looking at this shows the importance of those things that have not changed and that’s the brotherhood, the loyalty, and the commitment and the family atmosphere that the State Police talk about, live and believe in,” he said.

Paris was just 28 years old when he died. He is survived by his wife Sally Ann and two daughters Kim and Beth.