UPDATE: Police said a suspect is in custody in the shootings.
One man was fatally shot and two other people were injured in the parking lot at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda on Friday morning and authorities are investigating whether the assailant is a man believed to have shot and killed his wife outside a Maryland school Thursday evening.
Soon after the mall shooting, a woman was fatally shot at a grocery store several miles away, and authorities believe the same shooter may be responsible.
“We’re working hard to track this person,” said Paul Starks, the spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department.
Montgomery County Assistant Police Chief Darryl McSwain said the Friday incidents began about 11 a.m. when police were called to a report of a shooting at the mall. He said an initial investigation found that it appeared that one person was shot in a parking lot, and then two others who came to help also were shot. A man was killed, another man was in critical condition and a woman suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Police in both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties said they are looking into the possibility that the shooter is the suspect they’ve been searching for in a Thursday evening shooting at High Point High School in Beltsville. Police said Eulalio Tordil, 62, fatally shot his estranged wife, Gladys Tordil, who was there to pick up her children, and wounded a bystander who had come to her aid. The shooter fled the scene.
Tordil had been placed on administrative duties and stripped of his gun and badge from his law enforcement job at the Federal Protective Service in March when a civil court issued a protective order against him for alleged abuse, according to an official with the agency and court documents.
The protective order, filed by Gladys Tordil, alleges he subjected her children to “intense-military-like discipline” and physically abused one child over the course of a decade. The protective order also alleges he threatened to harm his wife if she left him and indicated Tordil had a .40-caliber hand gun, a .45-caliber hand gun, an M-4, a revolver and a “hunting gun” at home.
Police also said that shortly after the mall shooting a woman was fatally shot at a Giant grocery store in the Aspen Hill area, about nine miles from the mall. Initial details were sparse.
Out of caution, all Montgomery County schools and recreation centers were put on lockdown and shelter in place protocols were initiated. Friday afternoon, the schools said via Twitter that shelter in place orders had been lifted at all schools. They said dismissal would occur on time, except for at five schools — Strathmore, Georgian Forest, Brookhaven and Harmony Hills elementary schools and Parkland Middle School.
Suburban Hospital in Bethesda also went into lock down, said spokesman Gary Stephenson. The hospital is accepting patients but everyone who enters the hospital was being screened. “It’s business as usual, we’re just being more cautious,” Stephenson said.
Also, officials at the National Institutes of Health said they have put their leased facilities in the Bethesda and Rockville areas on lock down. The NIH main campus on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda is on “heightened alert” according to Brad Moss, a spokesman for NIH.
Later Friday, the Takoma Park City Building and recreation center on New Hampshire Avenue went on lockdown.
The shooting at the Mall occurred shortly after 11 a.m. In addition to the fatality, police said the second male victim was in critical condition and a female victim suffered non life threatening injuries.
Jose Mauricio Gomez, 54, of Wheaton was outside the mall in his pickup eating lunch when he said he heard 6 to 8 shots. At first they sounded far away but when he saw a police officer pull up next to him, Gomez said he realized it was closer than he thought. He saw a woman lying on the ground through his side view mirror.
Gomez said he, a police officer and another man ran to the woman, who had been shot in the left shoulder. He asked her how she was feeling and if she could get up. She was conscious and breathing .
“That’s when blood shot out of her the hole in her shoulder and he sat her back down,” Gomez said. The police officer handed Gomez his jacket and Gomez used it to put pressure on the wound until paramedics arrived. “I lived the war in El Salvador,” Gomez said. “I’ve witnessed gun battles before.”
Eliana Gendelman, 17, a junior at Walter Johnson High School, went to the mall for lunch, and said that because it’s a Friday and also the date of her school’s prom, it seemed there were more students at the mall than usual. At first she and her friends saw the police activity and the caution tape in the parking lot, but did not know there’d been a shooting.
“There was a lot of commotion,” she said. “I saw one man on the ground and another in a stretcher.”
The teenager said that as she and her friends had lunch at the food court, she learned of the shooting through text messages and heard that police were asking some people to leave. She wondered whether a gunman was inside the shopping area.
“I was very scared, because I heard the shooter hadn’t been caught yet,” she said.
Then, as she was leaving the mall, she said she heard about the shooting at the Giant in Aspen Hill. “I was like we have to get out of here,” she said.
In other areas of the mall, workers said that they heard sirens outside, but inside it appeared to be mostly business as usual. The food court was still buzzing at lunch time, said Caitlin McAuliffe, manager at the Naples Ristorante E Pizzeria E Bar.
Sophia Nguyen, an employee at the UA Salon and Day Spa, said she had not seen any police presence, but had told everybody “to stay inside the store and not to leave.” Customers, she said, were still having their nails painted and hair trimmed.
Calls to Westfield’s corporate office and an email were not immediately returned.
Jill Gendelman, mother of a Walter Johnson student, said her daughter was at the mall getting lunch when the incident happened. The teenager told her mother she was unharmed, but saw a stretcher and the police activity. “I was very concerned and told her to go right home,” Gendelman said. Instead. her daughter headed to a previously scheduled cheerleading demonstration at another school that was not affected. “She appeared to be concerned but not too rattled,” she said.
Michelle Forman of Kensington said she thought spending a day at Montgomery Mall with her two young children would be a great idea.
“I was wrong about that,” she said. When stores started locking their gates after the shooting, she said no police officers were around, and the scene was chaotic even though she didn’t witness the incident.
“I was very fortunate,” she said. “I was nowhere near the situation. I didn’t see anything. But it was really disconcerting that there was no one telling anyone what to do. “We’re already back to normal,” Nguyen said.
Ann E. Marimow, Donna St. George, Arelis R. Hernández, Justin Wm. Moyer, Michael E. Raune, Michael S. Rosenwald, Moriah Balingit and Michael S. Rosenwald contributed to this report.