Maryland Circuit Court Judge Fatally Shot, Suspect Identified

HAGERSTOWN, Maryland – A beloved Maryland circuit court judge, Andrew Wilkinson, tragically lost his life in a fatal shooting earlier this week, sending shockwaves through the community. Law enforcement has swiftly identified a suspect in this heart-wrenching case: Pedro Argote, a man embroiled in a heated divorce and who had just lost visitation rights to his children.

The horrifying incident unfolded at around 8 p.m. on Thursday near Hagerstown, Maryland, a serene neighborhood approximately 75 miles northwest of Baltimore. Authorities responded to the distressing scene, where they found Judge Wilkinson, 52, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in his driveway, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Despite immediate medical attention at Meritus Medical Center, Wilkinson tragically succumbed to his injuries. Notably, his wife and son were inside their home when the shooting occurred.

As a precaution, Maryland State Troopers were dispatched to provide security for other judges, but investigators had already honed in on a suspect in Wilkinson’s murder: Pedro Argote. Earlier on the same day, Judge Wilkinson had presided over a hearing in the case, during which he signed a partial judgment that prevented Argote from having contact with his ex-wife and their children. The judgment also granted Argote’s ex-wife “sole use and possession of the family home.” Shockingly, Argote failed to appear at the Thursday hearing, according to Sheriff Brian Albert, who noted that Argote appeared to have “targeted” Wilkinson due to the ruling.

Sheriff Albert disclosed that Argote had no prior criminal record in Washington County, though police had responded to domestic dispute calls at Argote’s residence on two occasions in recent years. Argote is legally in possession of a firearm, but the specific type used in the attack on Wilkinson was not disclosed.

Argote is currently at large, described as “5’7”, 130 lbs. with black hair and brown eyes.” He may be driving a silver 2009 Mercedes GL450 with Maryland license plate 4EH0408. Authorities consider him “armed and dangerous,” urging anyone who encounters Argote to notify the police immediately.

Meanwhile, the untimely death of Judge Wilkinson has left friends and former colleagues in disbelief. “Drew was an exceptional lawyer and a man who loved his family,” remarked former law partner Jason Divelbiss. The Maryland Judiciary also released a statement mourning the loss of Judge Wilkinson and requesting privacy for his grieving family. According to Wilkinson’s biography, he was born in Guam, graduated from Emory University School of Law in 1997, and became an associate member of the state circuit court bench in 2020. He was not only a dedicated legal professional but also actively involved in the community as a youth soccer and baseball coach, a member of the Hagerstown Young Men’s Christian Association, and an active member of his church.