Authorities are intensifying the search for the individual believed to have fatally shot Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson in Maryland. Officials now believe the suspect, Pedro Argote, is not in the vicinity where his abandoned SUV was discovered.
Pedro Argote, aged 49, was identified as the prime suspect in the fatal shooting of Judge Wilkinson. The shooting occurred shortly after Judge Wilkinson granted custody of Argote’s four minor children to his estranged wife. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has classified the attack as a “targeted” incident.
In an effort to expedite Argote’s capture, a $10,000 reward was announced over the weekend for any information leading to his arrest. The U.S. Marshals Service has disclosed that Argote has connections to various locations, including Brooklyn and Long Island in New York, Tampa and Clearwater in Florida, Columbus in Indiana, and other cities in North Carolina.
Law enforcement has characterized Argote as armed and dangerous, advising the public not to approach him but to immediately call 911 if they encounter him.
Argote’s SUV was discovered in Williamsport, Maryland, near the West Virginia border on Saturday. The duration it had been there remained unclear. The vehicle was found in a wooded area less than 10 miles from the site of the shooting in Hagerstown.
The sheriff’s office indicated on Sunday that their search in the Williamsport area had concluded, with no further evidence suggesting Argote’s presence in the immediate vicinity.
The shooting incident unfolded on the same day Judge Wilkinson issued a “partial judgment of absolute divorce” awarding custody of the couple’s four children to Argote’s estranged wife. The judgment also denied Argote visitation rights and obligated him to pay child support. In the preceding year, Argote’s wife had filed a domestic violence petition against him, but it was subsequently dismissed after two weeks.
Sheriff Brian K. Albert mentioned that law enforcement had responded to “verbal domestics,” or loud arguments, at the family’s residence in recent years. However, he noted that there were no claims of physical violence, to the best of his knowledge.
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Brett Wilson, the administrative judge for the circuit court of Washington County, remembered Judge Wilkinson as a respected member of the community and an upright judge known for his decisions rooted in intelligence and integrity.
Authorities are urging anyone with information about Argote’s whereabouts to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 240-313-2170 or the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-877-WANTED2.