Manhunt on for gunman who allegedly killed Maryland judge over divorce proceedings

Authorities are looking for the suspect, Pedro Argote, 49.

ByLauren Minore, Jon Haworth, Emily Shapiro, and Ivan Pereira ABCNews logo
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Manhunt on for gunman who allegedly killed Maryland judge
The Washington County Sheriff's Office in Maryland has confirmed that Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was fatally shot.

Maryland authorities said they're searching for a man who allegedly targeted and gunned down the judge who oversaw his divorce proceedings.

Pedro Argote, 49, allegedly shot Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, in the judge's driveway in Hagerstown, Maryland, Thursday night while the victim's wife and son were home, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Wilkinson was presiding over Argote's divorce proceedings, Sheriff Brian Albert said at a news conference Friday. Argote's ex was granted custody at a hearing earlier in the day Thursday, which is believed to be the motive for the shooting, Albert said.

Argote did not attend Thursday's hearing, the sheriff said.

Hagerstown, MD Judge Wilkinson was shot to death outside his home, and a man whose divorce case he handled has been ID'd as a person of interest.

On Saturday, the suspect's Mercedes was found abandoned, according to the Washington County, Maryland Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's office asks anyone with information on his whereabouts to call police immediately.

Argote should be considered armed and dangerous, the sheriff said.

The U.S. Marshals Service is also searching for Argote and offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to his arrest. The Marshals Service said in a release Friday evening that Argote is now "the target of an interstate manhunt."

In addition to transferring custody of the couple's children to Argote's wife, Wilkinson also issued a $1,120 a month child support requirement, prohibited Argote from visiting or contacting his children or wife if it was not initiated by her, and gave his wife sole possession of the family home, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

A protective order was issued in relation to a domestic abuse case between the couple in June 2022, according to the court documents.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement that he's "shocked, heartbroken, and sickened" by the shooting, calling it a "cold-blooded, vicious, and targeted attack."

"Judge Wilkinson spent his career in defense of justice," Moore said in a statement. "We must now ensure that the perpetrator of this vile act faces justice and Judge Wilkinson's family gets the support they need and deserve."

"My heart goes out to Judge Wilkinson's family, and my prayers are with everyone who knew him, loved him, and served alongside him," the governor said.

Wilkinson served in Washington County's 4th Judicial Circuit since Jan. 10, 2020, according to his court biography.

State Delegate Neil Parrott said on X, formerly known as Twitter, "It appears that Judge Andrew Wilkinson was shot multiple times and has passed away. Police are actively searching for the murderer. Please pray for our police and for Judge Wilkinson's family at this time."

ABC News' Beatrice Peterson, Noah Minnie, and Kelly Livingston contributed to this report.