ASPEN HILL, Md., May 6 (UPI) — Maryland police are investigating two separate shootings Friday, one at a shopping mall and one at a grocery store, that left two people dead and two others wounded, authorities said — and a possible suspect, allegedly involved in another homicide Thursday, has been captured.
The first shooting happened around 11:30 a.m. EDT Friday in a parking lot outside the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, officials said.
“One individual was shot. Two other individuals came to that person’s aid,” Montgomery County Police Assistant Chief Darryl McSwain said.
One of the victims, a man, died at the hospital, another man is in critical condition and the third victim, a woman, sustained non life-threatening injuries, police said Friday afternoon.
Witness Jose Mauricio Gomez told the Washington Post that he heard between 6 and 8 gunshots and saw a woman lying on the ground. He, a police officer and another man ran to her aid and saw she was conscious and bleeding.
“Blood shot out of her, the hole in her shoulder, and [the officer] sat her back down,” he said, adding that he put pressure on her wound until paramedics arrived. “I lived the war in El Salvador. I’ve witnessed gun battles before.”
A short time later at a grocery store in Silver Spring, about 8 miles away, another shooting left a fourth victim, a woman, dead. Police said they weren’t certain whether the two shooting incidents are related.
“We’re working hard to track this person,” Paul Starks, the spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department, said earlier Friday.
Police had been searching for suspect Eulalio Tordil, 62, for that incident, in which officials said he shot his estranged wife dead in the parking lot of a local high school.
Authorities stated Friday that they were looking into the possibility that Tordil was responsible for all three shootings, but did not cite a definitive link. After a large manhunt, Tordil was finally captured at an Aspen Hill, Md., shopping center just before 3 p.m. Friday, police said.
A witness told the Baltimore Sun that he saw police vehicles ram Tordil’s car in the center’s parking lot. Moments later, officers ordered him out of his vehicle at gunpoint. The officers took no chances, as a wanted poster for Tordil stated that he had previously threatened to commit “suicide by cop.”
After what seemed like a few minutes, the witness said, Tordil emerged with his hands up. Part of the arrest was captured by a bystander in the parking lot.
Friday afternoon, investigators said they didn’t yet have a definitive link among all three shootings.
“There’s nothing that we can confirm at this point,” McSwain said. “We are working with investigators, simply developing leads.”
Tordil, a law enforcement officer at the Federal Protective Service, had recently been stripped of his gun and badge after a civil court issued a protective order against him for alleged domestic abuse, court documents say.
The Federal Protective Service is responsible for security at federal buildings and some foreign embassies in the Washington, D.C., area.
After the shootings Friday, nearby schools ordered students and staff to shelter in place and Suburban Hospital in Bethesda was placed on lockdown. Montgomery parks were also on lockdown, NBC News reported.
The National Institutes of Health had also put their leased facilities in the Bethesda and Rockville areas on lockdown, the Post reported. The NIH main campus in Bethesda was on “heightened alert,” a spokesman said.
The Montgomery County Police Department is no stranger to random public shootings. In October 2002, the department launched a massive investigation and manhunt to capture the D.C. Sniper, who had shot 13 people in suburban Washington. Ten died.
The victims were shot at random locations in Maryland and Virginia — including gas stations, a Home Depot store, a steakhouse and even a school bus route. The Prince George’s County Police Department was also involved in the investigation, as some of the shootings happened in its jurisdiction.
That investigation took a bizarre turn when the suspects communicated with police with written messages and Tarot cards between attacks. One Tarot card left near one of the scenes said, “For you Mr. Police, call me God.” The community’s concern reached a fever pitch after the killers sent a message that read, “your children are not safe, anywhere, at any time.”
After three weeks, the snipers, John Allen Muhammad, 42, and Lee Boyd Malvo, 17, were captured and ultimately convicted in the attacks. Police said they had shot all the victims through a hole they had carved out in the trunk of their car.
Muhammad was executed in 2009 and Malvo continues to serve a life sentence.