Shooting at Aspen Hill Shopping Center Brings Back Memories of DC Snipers

Police officers saw the suspect in Thursday and Friday's shootings at a restaurant linked to the sniper

Provided to NBC 4 New York

The woman gunned down at a Maryland shopping center on Friday was shot in the same area terrorized by the D.C. snipers when they went on a murderous spree 14 years ago.

Her suspected killer ate at the same nearby Boston Market Friday that John A. Muhammad stopped at in 2002 after one of his random attacks with Lee Boyd Malvo, according to a Maryland state's attorney.

"[It] was an irony that was not lost on me," said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy.

Some of the snipers' victims were shot near the Aspen Hill Shopping Center, where Friday morning Eulalio Tordil allegedly killed a woman.

Tordil is also suspected of killing his estranged wife at a Beltsville, Maryland, school Thursday, as well as a man at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda Friday. Three others were hurt in the shootings.

Tordil was taken into custody at a shopping center's parking lot without incident, after plainclothes officers saw him at the Boston Market and other stores Friday, McCarthy said.

"When Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Mohammad committed those murders here in Aspen Hill," McCarthy said at a news conference Friday, "They ate at the same restaurant where we had [Tordil in] surveillance here today."

The snipers killed 10 people in Maryland and Virginia in October 2002. Among the victims: A bus driver on Grand Pre Road who was standing on the top step of his empty bus, a man pumping gas at a Mobil gas station on Aspen Hill Road and a woman sitting on a bench near a post office on Rossmoor Boulevard.

The Boston Market connection is likely nothing more than a coincidence, McCarthy added. He said authorities had information that Tordil once lived in the area and was familiar with the neighborhood.

Tordil is facing charges including first-degree murder. Authorities believe the deadly shootings were the result of a failed carjacking attempt.

Friday's shootings brought back memories of the Beltway shootings for many Aspen Hill residents.

Muhammad, who was executed in 2009, terrified the area, gunning down residents over three weeks as they went about their everyday lives. Until he was captured, sporting events were canceled, schoolchildren kept inside during recess and people wary as they pumped gas or walked through parking lots.

Muhammad was put to death at a Virginia state prison in 2009.

His accomplice, Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He later told The Washington Post that he was a monster who had stolen people’s lives. Some investigators believed he was under Muhammad’s spell.

At one point, they taunted police, leaving behind a "Death" tarot card with the words, "Call me God."

After the shootings, his former wife, Mildred Muhammad, described in an interview with NPR an increasingly manipulative man who threatened to kill her. The former soldier had changed after his return from a deployment to the Persian Gulf, his wife said. She believed he was suffering from an untreated case of post-traumatic stress disorder, she told The Frederick News-Post.

Malvo said that Muhammad had snapped when he lost custody of his children and wanted to get back as his wife.

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