SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — A federal security officer suspected in three fatal shootings outside a high school, a mall and a supermarket in the Washington, D.C., area was arrested Friday, police said. Three people were also wounded in the shootings.
Eulalio Tordil, an employee of the Federal Protective Service, which provides security at federal properties, was taken into custody without incident near the supermarket, the scene of the last shooting, authorities said. The brief manhunt and seemingly indiscriminate shootings rekindled fears of the D.C. sniper in 2002, which paralyzed the nation’s capital and its suburbs.
Plainclothes officers trailed Tordil for an hour, watching him walk from store to store at a shopping center as they waited for the right time to arrest him. He had earlier threatened to “commit suicide by cop” and authorities wanted to make sure the public was safe when he was arrested.
“Knowing his behavior today, knowing of statements he made in the past, we did not want to endanger anyone and have a shootout when we took him into custody and that’s why he was taken into custody the way he was,” Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said.
Tordil 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.
Authorities said Tordil followed his 44-year-old wife Gladys to their children’s high school Thursday. As she waited in an SUV in the parking lot of High Point High, Tordil confronted her and shot her. He also shot and wounded a man who tried to intervene.
The shooting occurred more than an hour after school and no students were harmed.
On Friday morning, about 15 miles from the school, police responded to a shooting at the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. One person was initially shot and two others may have been shot coming to that person’s aid, said Montgomery County Police Assistant Chief Darryl McSwain. A man died and another one was in critical condition. A woman had injuries that were not life-threatening.
About a half an hour later, while police were still on the scene at the mall, they got call of a shooting at a Giant Food store in Aspen Hill, about 5 miles away. A woman who was sitting in her car was shot and killed, authorities said.
Tordil was spotted by officers and when he returned to his car, officers surrounded him.
“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.”
A weapon was found in Tordil’s car, but authorities have not described it.
The protective service said when he was put on administrative duty in March, his weapon, badge and credentials were taken.
Friday evening, Prince George’s County Police charged Tordil with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his estranged wife.
The grocery store in Aspen Hill is a few hundred feet from a Michaels craft store that was first target by D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad. Muhammad’s shot into the store did not hit anyone, but he killed a man about a mile away less than an hour later, kicking off a three-week killing spree that left 10 dead.
Tordil ate at the same Boston Market as Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 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. “I think it’s a coincidence.”
—Associated Press contributors include Jessica Gresko, Sarah Brumfield and Alex Brandon.