The fatal shooting of a Maryland judge has been tied to a suspect, whose divorce court case was presided over by the murdered jurist.
County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was found dead in the driveway of his home, said police, adding that the killing was a “targeted attack”.
He was discovered at around 8pm Thursday in Hagerstown, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Investigators named Pedro Argote, 49, as a suspect in the killing, with court records showing he had his divorce court case presided over Mr Wilkinson the same day.
Mr Argote is not in custody and is currently considered armed and dangerous, Sheriff Brian Albert said at a press conference on Friday.
He confirmed that police believe “this was a targeted attack of Judge Wilkinson.”
The sheriff said that earlier in the day, Mr Wilkinson gave custody of Mr Argote’s children to his ex-partner, alluding that this may be why the judge was targeted.
However, the sheriff also said that Mr Argote was not in attendance at the court hearing.
Police described Mr Argote as 5 foot 7 inches tall, 130 pounds and with black hair and brown eyes.
They believe he could be driving a silver 2009 Mercedes GL450 with the Maryland registration plate of 4EH0408.
The investigators told the public not to approach Mr Argote and to immediately contact the police if they think they know his location.
The sheriff confirmed in the news confirmed in the news conference that Mr Argote legally owns a handgun.
Mr Wilkinson was transported to Meritus Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.
Mr Argote does not have a criminal record, but Sheriff Albert did say that they “have responded to the residence for verbal domestic assaults two times within the last few years.”
After the attack on Mr Wilkinson, officers and troopers were dispatched to other judges in the county at their homes and stayed through the night, though police now believe there is no further threat against them.
Former State Delegate for Maryland Neil Parrot wrote on X after he heard the news.
“Horrible news in Washington County tonight. It appears that Judge Andrew Wilkinson was shot multiple times and has passed away,” he wrote.
“Police are actively searching for the murderer. Please pray for our police and for Judge Wilkinson’s family at this time.”
A colleague, Administrative Judge Brett Wilson, told Fox 5 last night that it had been a “horrific night.”
Mr Wilkinson was born in Guam and held several roles at law associations before becoming an associate judge for the Washington County Circuit Court in January 2020, according to a profile.
The judge had a family and children, and was actively involved in the community, such as with Little League baseball and soccer, according to Fox 5.