A correctional officer accused of fatally shooting his estranged wife Monday at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for children had been in a bitter dispute with her, and both had sought criminal harassment charges against the other.
The correctional officer, Michael Hudgins, 29, had been arrested twice this year for alleged assaults against his wife. He, in turn, had alleged in a police complaint that he feared his 27-year-old wife and that she had threatened him with a gun.
State Division of Correction records show that Mr. Hudgins, who worked at Patuxent Institution, was arrested Jan. 10 and June 1 in cases involving domestic violence.
On Monday, city police allege that Mr. Hudgins, dressed in his correctional officer's uniform, went to the institute in the 2900 block of E. Biddle St. and fatally shot his wife, Donna Hudgins. He is charged with first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony.
Ms. Hudgins, who worked for one year as a clerk in the institute's billing office with about 50 other employees, recently left Mr. Hudgins. She was living in the 2400 block of Winchester St., a police spokeswoman said yesterday.
Scott McCauley, spokesman for the state Division of Correction, said Mr. Hudgins, of the 2300 block of Lawnwood Circle in Woodlawn, was arrested Jan. 10 and charged with assault after he allegedly pistol-whipped his wife, hospitalizing her. Mr. McCauley said the case was dropped in city criminal court for unknown reasons.
Mr. Hudgins was arrested June 1 in his vehicle near his home by Baltimore County police on a city warrant charging him with assault and battery and harassment of his wife. That case has not gone to court.
E. Jay Miller, a Baltimore County police spokesman, said Mr. Hudgins was also charged with a handgun violation when the arresting officers found a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun under the seat of his car.
"He told us he was carrying the gun because he feared his wife," Mr. Miller said.
Three days earlier, May 28, Mr. Hudgins filed a complaint against his wife, claiming she had approached him on the Security Square Mall parking lot and pointed a black revolver at him, Mr. Miller said.
In the complaint, Mr. Hudgins said his wife ordered him away from the Toyota Corolla he was driving -- a car they jointly owned -- and said to back away or she would shoot him.
He also told police he had been married to his wife for one year, but they had separated.
Two weeks earlier, he alleged, she had come at him with a knife and had slashed his mother's car tires, Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Miller said investigators informed Mr. Hudgins of the procedure to apply for an arrest warrant against his wife. It is unknown whether he pursued the warrant, Mr. Miller said.
Correctional officials said no personnel action had been taken against Mr. Hudgins because he had not been found guilty in the first allegations against him and because no criminal judgment had been reached in the second allegation.
But when he was charged with murder, Mr. Hudgins' superiors suspended him without pay yesterday "pending possible dismissal charges," Mr. McCauley said.
Mr. McCauley said state rules prevent him from discussing the suspect's work record. He was hired by the Division of Correction in May 1989.
As the initial shock of the fatal shooting abated, friends and co-workers of the victim were given time off yesterday to deal with their emotional trauma, said Dr. Gary Goldstein, president of the institute.
"All the workers there are very upset," Dr. Goldstein said. "We told them all they needn't come to work [yesterday] so they can deal with their emotions."
He added those workers were referred to the institute's employee assistance program for counseling.
Institute employees told police Mr. Hudgins arrived at 4:30 p.m. looking for his wife.
Dr. Goldstein said the suspect entered the building after being admitted through a locked front door by a receptionist.
Police said he found his wife sitting behind her desk among four cubicles in an office on the first floor.
Agent Doug Price, a city police spokesman, said the man pulled a gun and fired several shots.
Ms. Hudgins was struck in the chest, neck and face at nearly point-blank range, Agent Price said.
"There were people all around when this happened," he said.
Mr. Hudgins then left, police said.
The victim died at the scene.
Investigators alerted area police of Mr. Hudgins' name and the license plate of the car he was driving.
Baltimore County police arrested him a short time later in the 1900 block of Featherbed Lane in Catonsville, according to Mr. Miller.
His car was towed to city police headquarters and he was incarcerated, Mr. Miller said.
Dr. Goldstein said personnel records showed the couple had no children. He was not aware of any recent legal action taken by either spouse, although he was aware they were separated.
The Kennedy Krieger Institute each year serves more than 6,000 children with neurological disabilities and trains 150 professionals.