A shooting suspect who was the focus of a day-long manhunt was arrested Wednesday evening, hours after, police said, he opened fire on his co-workers in Maryland, killing three and wounding two, and then drove 50 miles to his home state of Delaware, where he gunned down an acquaintance.
The deadly mayhem, which unfolded in less than two hours, began shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday when the gunman, identified by police as Radee Labeeb Prince, 37, shot five employees at Advanced Granite Solutions, in a business park in Edgewood, about 40 miles northeast of Baltimore, authorities said. They said that three of those victims died and that the others were hospitalized in critical condition.
The gunman then drove to a used-car dealership in Wilmington, Del., where he shot an acquaintance in the head and body, probably with the same handgun he used in Maryland, Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said. That victim survived.
Officers who responded to a report of gunshots at the dealership were tending to the victim when they saw Prince, a Wilmington resident, driving away in a black 2008 GMC Acadia with Delaware license plates, Tracy said.
“We were able to give a short chase but lost the vehicle,” the chief said at a news briefing hours after the 10:46 a.m. shooting.
An intensive search for Prince, involving numerous police officers in the Mid-Atlantic region as well as federal agents, ended in the early evening, according to the Sheriff’s Office in Harford County, where the fatal shootings occurred.
“Prince was apprehended a short time ago in Delaware by ATF and allied law enforcement agencies,” the office announced on Twitter shortly before 7:30 p.m., referring to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
No details of the arrest were immediately available. About an hour before Prince was taken into custody, police said, his GMC Acadia was found unoccupied in Delaware, outside Wilmington, but they would not say exactly where.
If investigators know of a motive for the shootings, they were keeping it to themselves. But they stressed that Prince knew the victims and that the attacks were “targeted,” not random.
“My suspicion is that if he could have shot more individuals, this incident would have resulted in a greater loss of life,” Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler told reporters after the gunfire at Advanced Granite Solutions, which makes and installs granite counter tops. Prince, who had worked there for about four months, has a long arrest record — mainly for nonviolent crimes — but relatively few convictions, according to police officials and online court records.
According to Gahler, Prince was scheduled to work Wednesday in Maryland.
In Delaware, Tracy said: “I don’t know what goes through people’s minds. There could be something that’s going on at that workplace,” meaning Advanced Granite. As for the Wilmington victim’s association with Prince, the chief said: “They’ve had beefs. . . . They’ve had some past history on criminal cases.” He declined to elaborate.
Karen Flowers, 51, of Wilmington said in an interview that she has known Prince since he was a child. He was raised by caring parents, she said, including a strict father.
“It’s not like he came from a bad home,” Flowers said Wednesday evening, standing outside 28th Street Auto Sales Service, site of the Wilmington shooting. “I’m trying to find out what the hell happened . . . that triggered him to do this.”
She said, “He just snapped.”
At the Emmorton Business Park, where the Maryland killings occurred, people were running in and out of Advanced Granite when William Earp, 56, pulled up Wednesday morning in his tractor-trailer rig. Amid the chaotic scene, Earp said, he walked toward the building and was told about the fatal shootings.
At the door, a woman said, “There’s blood everywhere,” Earp, of Abingdon, Md., recalled in an interview. Around the woman, other people seemed to be panicking, he said. He said he saw one man leaning against the hood of a car crying.
“They were all running back and forth,” he said. “They were just petrified.”
Jackie Holsopple, general manager of the Red Roof Inn hotel across the street from Advanced Granite, said she was working at her computer when she heard sirens.
A housekeeper standing outside told her, “You should come out here and look at this.”
Holsopple said that she went out and that within minutes, police officers were pouring into the area. One walked up to Holsopple and a group standing with her.
“There’s an active shooter,” the officer told her. “You should go inside and stay inside.”
At an outdoor prayer vigil Wednesday evening, Advanced Granite’s manager, Ibrahim Kucuk, appeared shaken. His hands trembled as he held a sheet of paper on which he had written his thoughts: “Words cannot express our shock and sadness. We are a small business and we know each employee intimately. We have worked together with these wonderful people for years in a peaceful setting. We will be here to support their families and to grieve with them.”
On its Facebook page, the company posted an image of three candles, for its slain employees, with the message: “Praying that God grants peace to the soul of our dearly departed.”
Police did not immediately provide the names any of the six victims. A man who identified himself as an employee of 28th Street Auto Sales, where the Wilmington shooting occurred, said by phone that he was at a hospital with the wounded man and would not answer questions.
Wednesday’s shootings in Maryland were not Prince’s first alleged incident of workplace violence, court documents show. In February, the owner of another countertop company, JPS Marble and Granite, filed a petition in Harford County District Court, asking a judge to order Prince to stay away from him.
“I fired him for punching another employee on the face,” the owner said in the petition, which was denied for lack of evidence. “He came back to our business justifying what he did was right because the other guy was saying some things that he did not like. I still did not take him back after about three times that he went to me.”
After the owner got an official letter notifying him that Prince was seeking unemployment benefits, “we responded that he was fired already working for another company.” The owner said Prince then visited again and “cursed yelled at me about unemployment benefits. I felt very threatened because he is a big guy very aggressive on me.”
The owner added, “He did not hurt me physically, but I do not want to wait ’till he will.”
Steve Chetelat, the manager of K.C. Flooring, near Advanced Granite, said he was outside his business, washing the front windows, when he heard a commotion.
“I heard the most bloodcurdling screams and hollering,” Chetelat said.
He looked back, across the street, to the rear of Advance Granite, where slabs of granite are stored. He said he could not see what was happening because of two large trees. But to him it sounded as if several people were arguing. He said he did not hear anything that sounded like gunshots.
Minutes later, police officers swarmed the area. “Get back in and lock up,” one of the officers ordered. “The gun man is still on the loose.”
Larry Hunt, manager of R.E. Michel Co., a heating and air conditioning parts business near Advanced Granite, said he and other employees were outside talking to a customer about 9 a.m. when they also heard the loud arguing.
Hunt, who did not hear gunshots, said that suddenly emergency vehicles came toward them with sirens on, and employees were ordered to go inside and stay there.
By 10:15 a.m., Hunt said, he and six customers and employees were locked inside the heating and air conditioning store and could see first responders outside.
“We were very nervous,” Hunt said.
Justin Wm. Moyer, Perry Stein, Magda Jean-Louis, Lynh Bui, Ellie Silverman and Michael E. Ruane contributed to this report.
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