Maryland judge fatally shot outside home
A manhunt is underway to capture the “armed and dangerous” suspect wanted in connection with the killing of a Maryland judge.
Judge Andrew Wilkinson was found shot to death in the driveway of his home in Hagerstown, Maryland, Thursday night.
Law enforcement, including U.S. Marshals, are now searching for Pedro Argote, 49, who is accused of targeting the judge in anger over a court order.
Hours before the shooting, a judge awarded custody of Mr. Argote's four children to his ex-wife, Eugeina Argote, in a divorce hearing. Court records show he has a history of verbal domestic assaults against his wife and family.
Over the weekend, police confirmed Mr Argote's vehicle had been found in a wooded area in Williamsport – about eight miles from the crime scene.
Investigators have now warned that he could be headed for New York, Florida, Indiana or North Carolina, as he has ties to the various locations.
The US Marshals Service is now offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to his arrest.
Wilkinson was born in Agana, Guam in 1971. His family moved around a lot during his childhood as a member of the military, but settled in Hagerstown when his mother was hired as a law clerk for Judge Frederick Wright III in 1983.
He received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of North Carolina before earning his law degree from Emory University School of Law in 1997.
Wilkinson became a clerk in Washington County before being sworn in as an associate judge for the County Circuit Court in 2020.
At his swearing-in, Wilkinson said he wanted to become a judge to serve the community, The Herald-Mail mentionted.
“It's an honor and a humbling, and I'm pleased to serve,” he said, thanking the now-retired judge, Mr. Wright, for guiding his career.
Alongside his successful legal career, Wilkinson was a father and husband. according to Fox 5, he was involved in the community, such as helping out at local Little League baseball and football games.
Kelly Riesman24 October 2023 10:00
He could leave the state, officials say. The US Marshals Service added that it has ties to New York, Indiana, Florida and North Carolina.
The US Marshals Service is now offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to Mr Argote's arrest, while the Washington County Sheriff's Office said it had completed search operations around Williamsport.
“No other information indicates that Argote is still in the immediate area,” the sheriff's office wrote on Facebook.
The sheriff's office continues to investigate evidence and gather information about the shooting, and authorities warn that Mr. Argote should be considered armed and dangerous.
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 09:00
Statement from the Maryland Judiciary for Judge Wilkinson
The Maryland Judiciary said it was mourning Wilkinson's “tragic death.”
“As we mourn his loss, we ask that you keep the Wilkinson family in your prayers and respect their privacy,” the system said in a statement Friday.
“The Maryland Judiciary is actively working with law enforcement to help resolve this matter and ensure the safety of our judges, staff and visitors, which remains our top priority.”
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 08:00
What we know about Pedro Argote
- He is reported to be 5 feet 7 inches tall, 130 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
- Police believe he may be driving a silver 2009 Mercedes GL450 with Maryland license plate 4EH0408.
- Officials described him as “armed and dangerous.”
- The suspect had a history of controlling and abusive behavior toward his ex-wife, according to court documents.
- The couple also had a long history of domestic violence and in 2012, his ex-wife claimed, adding that she tried to get help from a domestic violence support centre.
- As of Monday afternoon, he remains free.
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 07:00
ICYMI: “Targeted Attack”
The sheriff said that earlier in the day, Mr. Wilkinson had given custody of Mr. Argote's children to his ex-partner, suggesting that may be why the judge was targeted.
However, the sheriff also said Mr Argote was not present at the hearing.
Officials said they believe “this was a targeted attack by Judge Wilkinson.”
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 06:00
The Federal Bar's Statement on Judge Wilkinson
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 05:00
ICYMI: the ties between the suspected shooter and the judge
Investigators have named Pedro Argote, 49, as a suspect in the murder, with court records showing his divorce case was presided over by Mr. Wilkinson the same day.
Mr. Argote is not in custody and is currently considered armed and dangerous, Sheriff Brian Albert said at a news conference Friday.
He confirmed that police believe “this is a targeted attack on Judge Wilkinson”.
The sheriff said that earlier in the day, Mr. Wilkinson had given custody of Mr. Argote's children to his ex-partner, suggesting that may be why the judge was targeted. However, the sheriff also said Mr Argote was not present at the hearing.
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 04:00
Message from the US Military Service
Law enforcement officials believe Argote is possibly operating a silver 2009 Mercedes GL 450 with Maryland license plate 4EH0408.
Argote has ties to many locations beyond the state of Maryland, including Brooklyn and Long Island, New York. Tampa and Clearwater, Florida. Columbus, Indiana; and unknown cities in North Carolina.
The US Marshals Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to Argote's arrest. Argote should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is urged to contact the US Marshals at 1-877-WANTED2 or submit tips through the USMS Tips App.
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 03:00
It's not a first for Hagerstown
On December 22, 1989, a package of pipe bombs exploded in the third-floor apartment of Judge John Corderman, according to the Herald-Mailarge archives.
The attack, in Hagerstown, left Corderman with shrapnel wounds to his right arm and abdomen and partial hearing loss.
No one was ever charged in the bombing, according to a news release at the time of Corderman's death in July 2013.
His son, Paul Corderman, is now a senator from Washington and Frederick counties.
After Wilkinson's fatal shooting, he wrote: “Our community has suffered an unimaginable tragedy. We have lost a dedicated public servant and champion for Washington County.”
“We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to the family of Judge Andrew Wilkinson. We are praying for the judicial and law enforcement community during this most difficult time,” he said.
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 02:00
The Maryland comptroller offers her condolences
Kelly RiesmanOctober 24, 2023 01:00