In a harrowing turn of events, a man who had recently lost custody of his children in a contentious divorce case is now the prime suspect in the fatal shooting of the very judge who ruled on his case. The tragedy unfolded before a Washington County Circuit Court judge, Andrew Wilkinson, met his untimely demise on the same day.

Law enforcement authorities are on a relentless hunt for the suspected shooter, identified as 49-year-old Pedro Argote. Argote, a man with a height of 5’7″, weighing 130 lbs, with black hair and brown eyes, is believed to be operating a silver 2009 Mercedes GL450, which bears Maryland registration plates numbered 4EH0408. His court records indicate that he had a hearing before Judge Wilkinson on a divorce matter just prior to the tragic incident.

Also Read: Who is Pedro Argote, prime suspect in murder of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson?

The circumstances leading up to the shooting provide a glimpse into the troubled dynamics of Argote’s personal life. Despite residing in Hagerstown with his wife and four children, Argote had filed for divorce in June 2022. Court records reveal that the couple had been living separately in the same home for two years prior to Argote initiating the divorce proceedings. Subsequently, he temporarily relocated to West Virginia before securing an apartment in Frederick in April.

In a court order issued on the fateful day, Judge Wilkinson imposed strict restrictions, mandating no contact between Argote and his children or wife. The judge also granted Argote’s wife sole use of the family home while prohibiting Argote from entering the premises. Further, he ordered Argote to pay $1,120 in child support monthly, with an additional directive to make the family’s Mercedes available to his wife when needed.

Also Read: Who was Andrew Wilkinson? Washington County Circuit Court judge shot and killed at home in Maryland

Argote’s court records indicate that he and his wife jointly operated a digital advertising business, albeit with noted “financial challenges” during the divorce process. Matters escalated when Argote’s wife sought a domestic violence protection order against him in June 2022. In her petition, she described the dire financial straits she found herself in due to Argote’s control over her finances and mobility. She detailed an incident in which she had to intervene to protect their daughter from Argote’s violence, stressing her desperation for help.

Despite securing a temporary protection order, Argote’s wife ultimately requested the dismissal of the case. A list of the couple’s property also revealed Argote’s ownership of a 9mm Glock handgun, with his wife specifying that he possessed at least two firearms.

The investigation is ongoing into the shooting death of Judge Wilkinson, who was found in a driveway in Hagerstown. As a precautionary measure, Maryland State Police have been conducting checks at the homes of Washington County judges, while nearby Frederick County’s Sheriff’s Office has undertaken similar precautions, despite no known threats against judges.

The Maryland Judiciary has expressed profound sadness at the tragic loss of Judge Wilkinson, emphasizing its commitment to assisting law enforcement in resolving the matter and ensuring the safety of judges, staff, and visitors.