Judge shot dead in targeted attack

HAGERSTOWN, MD – A respected Maryland judge was tragically killed in his own driveway on Thursday evening, in what police are depicting as a “targeted attack”. The incident took place mere hours after the judge had awarded custody of the alleged assailant’s children to their mother.

The victim, 52-year-old Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, was discovered outside his Hagerstown home by deputies responding to a shooting report around 8 p.m., according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Wilkinson’s wife and son were at home during the incident, Sheriff Brian K. Albert confirmed during a press conference on Friday.

Upon arrival, deputies found Wilkinson suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. He was rushed to Meritus Medical Center, but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. The suspect in the homicide investigation has been identified as 49-year-old Pedro Argote, who remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous.

Wilkinson had been presiding over Argote’s divorce case, which was filed in June 2022. On the morning of the attack, Wilkinson had overseen a hearing related to the divorce, granting custody of Argote’s children to their mother. Argote was not present at the hearing.

Court records also reveal a domestic violence case against Argote, filed in June 2022, which was dismissed less than two weeks later at the request of the unnamed petitioner. Sheriff Albert disclosed that Argote had been involved in “verbal domestic assaults” on two previous occasions and legally owned a handgun.

Argote is described as being 5 feet 7 inches tall. He weighs about 130 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. He is believed to be driving a silver 2009 Mercedes GL450. The sheriff’s office has urged anyone with information about Argote’s whereabouts to contact law enforcement immediately and not to approach him.

In response to the incident, Maryland State Police were deployed to protect judges residing in Washington County. However, Sheriff Albert reassured the public that there is no perceived threat to other judges in the county or state.

Wilkinson, a Guam native born in 1971, graduated from Emory University School of Law in 1997. He served as an assistant county attorney before becoming an associate judge in Washington County Circuit Court in January 2020. His untimely death has been mourned by the Maryland Judiciary and former state delegate Neil C. Parrott, who urged the public to pray for Wilkinson’s family and local law enforcement.