Charges filed in Maryland mall murders

Charges filed in Maryland mall murders
Posted at 12:35 PM, May 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-07 12:35:50-04

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — A federal security officer is now facing multiple murder charges in a shooting spree across three Maryland parking lots that left three people dead.

Court records show 62-year-old Eulalio Tordil of Adelphi was formally charged Saturday in Montgomery County with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, along with four firearms charges.

He will make an initial court appearance Monday.

Tordil had already been charged with first-degree murder in Prince George's County for the shooting death of his estranged wife, Gladys, in a high-school parking lot Thursday. Hers was the first in a string of shootings Thursday and Friday in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. Maryland abolished the death penalty in 2013.

The shooting spree began with a domestic slaying in an unusually public place, and comparisons to the 2002 D.C. sniper shootings leapt immediately to the minds of area residents. Tordil's arrest took place just steps away from a Michaels craft store that was the first target of snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

Police say Tordil's spree began when he shot and killed his estranged wife — who had obtained a protective order from him — as she waited to pick up her children in the parking lot of a High Point High School in Beltsville. He also shot and wounded a bystander who tried to intervene, police said.

Detectives worked through the night, trying to use cellphone technology to pinpoint Tordil's location. But they weren't able to catch him. The next day, according to police, he struck again, this time apparently choosing his victims at random.

On Friday morning, police said, Tordil shot three people outside Montgomery Mall, an upscale mall in Bethesda that sits off the Capital Beltway. One man died and two others were wounded, one of them critically. Then, he drove to a supermarket several miles away in the Aspen Hill section of Silver Spring, where he fatally shot a woman who was sitting in her car, police said.

Unlike the 2002 sniper shootings that stretched over a period of weeks and left 10 dead, police had an idea about who was responsible for Friday's shootings. Plainclothes officers spotted Tordil's car at a strip mall across the street from the supermarket, and they watched him for more than an hour as he moved from store to store, eating at Boston Market and getting coffee at Dunkin' Donuts, police said. Fearing that he wanted to provoke officers into shooting him, police waited him out until he returned to his car. Then they boxed him in and drew their guns. He emerged from the car with his hands up.

"We did not want to endanger anyone and have a shootout when we took him into custody," Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said. "That may have been what he wanted."

Instead, Tordil will have to answer in court for the string of carnage attributed to him: three people dead and another three wounded in roughly 20 hours.

Hank Stawinski, the police chief in neighboring Prince George's County, where the school shooting took place, lamented that his detectives couldn't find Tordil sooner.

"It's tragic that we were not able to intervene prior to additional individuals being harmed," Stawinski said.

Tordil worked for the Federal Protective Service, which provides security at federal properties. He was put on administrative duties in March after a protective order was issued against him when his wife said he had threatened to harm her if she left him, The Washington Post reported ( Tordil subjected their children to "intense-military-like discipline," like push-ups and detention in a dark closet, according to the order.

The protective service said Tordil's weapon, badge and credentials were taken when he was placed on leave. Police found a weapon in his car but did not describe it.

The arrest occurred in full view of dozens of witnesses who were working, shopping, eating lunch or getting their nails done.

"They had a bunch of guns pointed at him, and he was coming out of the car with his hands up," said Dominique Lee, who was walking out of the flower shop where she works when Tordil was arrested.

"He just got out of his car. He gave up," said Jason Palmer, a private investigator who lives nearby and had started to search for the gunman himself. "They pinned him in."

Tordil ate at the same Boston Market as Muhammad and Malvo, who were also convicted in the sniper attacks.

"They ate in the same restaurant where we were having the surveillance here today, which was an irony that was not lost on me," said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy, who prosecuted Muhammad. "I think it's a coincidence."