Suspect On the Run After Killing Maryland Judge Following Child Custody Ruling, Police Say

A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of Pedro Argote

<p>Washington County Sheriff

Washington County Sheriff's Office; Washington County Bar Association

Pedro Argote, left, Maryland Judge Andrew Wilkinson

A manhunt is underway for a suspect connected to the shooting death of a Maryland judge.

The U.S. Marshals Service has offered up to a $10,000 reward leading to the arrest of 49-year-old Pedro Argote. Argote is wanted in connection with the fatal Oct. 19 shooting of 52-year-old Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson. Wilkinson was killed just hours after granting Argote's estranged wife custody of their four children, ages 12, 11, 5 and 3, the Associated Press reports.

Related: Maryland Judge Shot Dead on Driveway of His Home, Say Police: 'Horrible News'

“We are just trying to share his face out there,” Washington County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Carly Hose tells PEOPLE. “If anyone has information about him or sees him, call the tip line and bring those tips in. We want to get him caught.”

A silver 2009 Mercedes GL450 belonging to Argote was found Saturday in a wooded area near the West Virginia border. The U.S. Marshals Service said Argote has ties to Maryland, Brooklyn and Long Island, N.Y., Tampa and Clearwater, Fla., Columbus, Ind., and North Carolina.

Wilkinson was found around 8 p.m. on Thursday “suffering from what appeared to be gunshot wounds” on his driveway in Hagerstown, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a release. He was taken to Meritus Medical Center, where he later died.

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Earlier that day, Wilkinson ruled against Argote in his divorce petition against his estranged wife, and ordered him to pay monthly child support and barred him from having any contact with his children, NBC News reported.

Argote filed for divorce in 2022 claiming that his wife wasn’t supervising their children properly, according to the AP. Soon after, his wife filed a counter complaint and requested a protective order against him, the AP reported.

“I know he has his weapon on him at all times,” she wrote in court filings, per the AP.

A temporary restraining order was granted, but it was dismissed a few weeks later, according to the AP.

According to the circuit court’s website, Wilkinson studied economics at the University of North Carolina before attending Emory University School of Law in 1997. He was an attorney at Barton & Williams and Divelbiss & Wilkinson and opened his own law firm in 2018 while serving on the board of directors for several associations.

After swearing in as a circuit court judge in 2020, Wilkinson told The Herald-Mail it was “an honor and it's humbling,” adding, “I'm happy to serve."

Anyone with information on the location of Argote is urged to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 240-313-2170 or the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-877-WANTED2.

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