HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Authorities found the vehicle used by the suspect in the fatal shooting of Maryland judge but asked the public to remain vigilant Saturday as they continued to search for the man.
Pedro Argote, 49, is suspected of shooting the judge to death in the driveway of his home hours after he ruled against him in a divorce case. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on Facebook that the silver Mercedes pickup truck Argote was believed to be driving had been located in a wooded area in Williamsport, about 8 miles southwest of Hagerstown, where the judge received a shot outside his house.
“Anyone with information regarding Argote’s location is asked to immediately notify authorities,” the sheriff’s office said in its statement.
Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was shot Thursday night, just hours after awarding custody of Argote’s children to his wife. Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert said it was a “targeted attack.”
During a news conference Saturday, Albert said local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are participating in the search for Argote.
“We’re going to catch this guy, it’s just a matter of time,” Albert said.
The United States Marshals Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to Argote’s arrest.
In a news release issued Friday evening, the Marshals Service said Argote has ties to multiple areas outside of Maryland, including Brooklyn and Long Island, New York; Tampa and Clearwater, Florida; Columbus, Indiana; and unknown cities in North Carolina.
Albert said Argote is considered “armed and dangerous.”
Wilkinson had presided over a divorce proceeding involving Argote earlier Thursday, but Argote was not present at the hearing, Albert said. The judge gave custody of Argote’s children to his wife at the hearing and that was the motive for the murder, the sheriff said. The judge had also ordered Argote to have no contact with the children and to pay $1,120 a month in child support.
Hagerstown, a city of nearly 44,000, is located about 75 miles northwest of Baltimore.
Judges across the US have been subjected to threats and sometimes violence in recent years. President Joe Biden last year signed a bill to provide round-the-clock security protection to the families of Supreme Court justices after the leak of a draft judicial opinion overturning the abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade, which caused Protests outside the homes of conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court..
In June 2022, a retired Wisconsin County Circuit Judge, John Roemer, was murdered in his home in what authorities said was a targeted killing. That same month, a man carrying a gun, knife and zip ties was arrested near Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Maryland home after threatening to kill him.
A men’s rights attorney with a history of anti-feminist writings posed as a FedEx delivery driver in 2020 and shot and killed the 20-year-old son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas and wounded her husband in their New York home. Sweater. Salas was not injured.
In August, a Texas woman was charged with threatening to kill U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case in Washington accusing Donald Trump of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss.