Suspect responsible for multiple shots fired in the region over the last week has been arrested, Hong Young, 34, of Beltsville, Maryland. Young is currently, being held at a local hospital under police guard. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun)
A gunman believed responsible for a string of recent shootings in public areas — including one at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade — will be charged with attempted first-degree murder and other offenses, police said Wednesday.
Anne Arundel County Police said 35-year-old Hong Young, of Beltsville, is responsible for five shootings in the region in the past week. The other four shootings occurred near the Mall in Columbia, Arundel Mills Mall, a Walmart in Laurel and an incident on the Intercounty Connector that left two people injured.
Young was identified as a former Maryland corrections officer, who officials said resigned in May after two years. The handgun used in the shootings was a legally owned Bersa .380 caliber pistol.
Prince George's County Police said initial ballistics tests had matched a gun found in Young's possession to four of the shootings. Young was taken into custody late Tuesday by Anne Arundel County Police, according to Lt. T.J. Smith, a spokesman for that department.
Smith said police did not believe the case had any links to terrorism, but declined to speculate about Young's mindset. "Buildings were fired upon, so that takes you a little bit into the mindset of this individual," Smith told reporters at a news conference.
Arundel police had deployed additional officers following the shootings. Two county officers spotted a 1999 Lincoln Town Car that matched the description of the vehicle suspected to be involved in the shootings and conducted a traffic stop.
Police located .380 shell casings inside the vehicle, as well as a .380 semi-automatic handgun. Police said the ballistics testing on the gun and casings preliminarily indicates a match, and is the same caliber weapon used in the shootings.
Police did not identify a motive.
The Baltimore Sun first reported late Tuesday that authorities were exploring a connection between five incidents in Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Howard counties, including four in the past two days. At least two people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in one of the incidents.
Law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak about the case, said surveillance video shows what appears to be the same blue or gray Lincoln Town Car near some of the crime scenes.
The images were not clear enough to discern a license plate or a detailed description of the shooter, the sources said Tuesday. Ballistic evidence also has suggested a link, the sources said.
Details began to emerge Wednesday about the suspect. Court files show Young is married, but had filed for divorce on Sept. 24. The filing, however, was dismissed because it was incomplete. The couple does not have any children, according to the file.
His wife, Bunnary Ngo, said in a phone interview Wednesday with The Sun that she has been living in California for several months while he remained in Beltsville with his mother.
"I am going to divorce him," she said.
Ngo said she had received a call several days ago from Young's mother, who was concerned because she had not seen him and he was not returning calls.
Ngo said she has not talked with her husband recently and couldn't remember the last time they spoke. She was unaware of the shootings and expressed concern for his safety.
Ngo said Young was not employed but couldn't say whether he had recently lost a job.
The string of shootings authorities believe are connected began last Tuesday when shots were fired at a vehicle driving through the Arundel Mills shopping complex. Police at the time said a 61-year-old driver had his windows shot out while driving on Arundel Mills Boulevard at about 7:30 a.m. On Saturday, police released video of the Town Car.
On Monday, police received reports of shots fired at a Walmart in Laurel and at the AMC Theater at The Mall in Columbia. In the Columbia incident, Howard County police said that a member of a cleaning crew at the theater heard the shots at about 5:10 a.m.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said a dump truck driving on the Intercounty Connector was fired upon. Two passengers in the truck were injured from shattered glass.
"What's believed to be a bullet penetrated through the window of the truck and then got lodged into one of the subjects in the vehicles' clothing," Lt. Kevin Ayd, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority police, said earlier Tuesday.
The dump truck belongs to Nelson Tree Specialist, a tree removal and trimming company with offices in Highland and a shop in Beltsville, according to office manager Gary Cooper.
On Wednesday morning, Cooper said the two employees who were in the truck at the time of the shooting were back at home and "doing OK," though they remained shaken up from the incident. Both had been taken to an area hospital on Tuesday for non-life-threatening injuries, mostly from shattered glass, Cooper said.
Cooper said they were all comforted by the news that police had taken a suspect into custody. He did not identify the employees.
The ICC shooting occurred shortly before 3 p.m. as the truck was traveling eastbound on the highway, also known as Route 200, between Interstate 95 and Route 29, Ayd said.
He said the shooting appeared to come from a nearby wooded area, not from another vehicle on the road.
Later Tuesday, bullets struck a building at the National Security Agency campus, about 12 miles away from the ICC incident.
About 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, several police patrol vehicles and SUVs were parked on the right shoulder of northbound Route 295, just north of the Route 32 overpass. Officers in dark clothing conversed in a grouping as several others — holding large, military-style weapons — walked slowly down the shoulder, peering into a thin stretch of woods that separates the parkway from the NSA and Fort Meade's western edge.
A U.S. Park Police spokeswoman said NSA officials were trying to determine if damage to the building was caused by gunfire.