The July 2017 shooting of a Newark Applebees restaurant manager will lead to at least 15 years in prison for a Wilmington man.
Officials announced last week that Thomas Ellerbe, 41, of Wilmington, has pled guilty to Assault Second Degree, Conspiracy Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited.
He was originally charged with Robbery First Degree, Assault First Degree, Attempted Kidnapping First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited and Wearing a Disguise During the Commission of a Felony.
On Saturday, July 29, 2017, at approximately 2:17 a.m. the Applebees’ manager, who was walking to his vehicle after closing, was approached by Ellerbe and another man, James Brooks, 44, of New Castle, in the parking lot. Officials said that both suspects emerged from the bushes and were wearing masks over their faces.
The suspects attempted to force the manager back into the restaurant but he refused. It was at this point that Ellerbe, armed with a handgun, shot the man in the leg and stole a power drill he had with him. The manager was transported the to Christiana Hospital via Aetna Hose, Hook, and Ladder ambulance, where he was treated and released.
Officials said through the use of both public and private surveillance cameras, detectives were able to identify Ellerbe’s vehicle and its license plate as it fled from the scene of the shooting.
Just two days after the shooting, on Monday, July 31, 2017, the Newark/Middletown SWAT team, with the assistance of the Wilmington Police Department, took Ellerbe into custody at his residence in the 400 block of North Union Street in Wilmington.
Ellerbe, barred from having a firearm because of previous felony convictions on Robbery and Burglary charges, faces at least 15 years in prison in Delaware. Ellerbe also faces up to 10 years in prison for violating his parole in Maryland, said officials.
Brooks previously pled guilty in August to Robbery Second Degree, Conspiracy Second Degree, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and was sentenced by a judge to 7 years in prison, followed by 6 months of either home confinement or work release, then 1 year of probation.
Deputy Attorney General William Leonard secured a guilty plea from Ellerbe. Detective Daniel Bystricky of the Newark Police Department was the chief investigating officer. DOJ paralegal Donna Lee and social worker Kristen Fluharty-Emory assisted with the prosecution.