A former federal police officer accused of killing two people and injuring two others in a May shooting spree in Montgomery County pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder charges during a Rockville court appearance.
Eulalio Tordil, 63, of Adelphi, waived his right to trial by pleading guilty to two charges of first-degree murder and two charges of attempted first-degree murder. Judge Sharon Burrell accepted the plea, and set a sentencing date for 1 p.m. July 7 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Tordil faces a possible sentence of life without the possibility of parole, plus three additional life sentences to be served consecutively.
On the morning of May 6, Tordil shot three people while trying to steal a car in the parking lot of Macy’s at Westfield Montgomery mall. The woman who owned the car and a man who came to help her survived their injuries, but another man who came to help, Malcom “Mike” Winffel, 45, of Boyds, died at the hospital. He was a contractor at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda.
That afternoon, Tordil shot and killed Claudina Molina, 65, a retired nurse from Silver Spring, in the parking lot of a Giant grocery store in an Aspen Hill shopping center. Minutes after shooting her, Tordil bought a donut and a hat at a store in the center and then sat down for about an hour to eat lunch in a Boston Market across the street before police apprehended him later that afternoon by boxing in his vehicle when he returned to it.
Malcom "Mike" Winffel (left) and Claudina Molina, far right, with her daughter. (Family photos via State's Attorney's Office)
The day before the Montgomery County shootings, Tordil attacked his estranged wife, Gladys Tordil, 44, in the parking lot of High Point High School in Beltsville as she was waiting to pick up her daughter. After a confrontation, he shot and killed her, and injured another man in the parking lot, according to police.
Tordil’s guilty plea did not apply to the shooting of his wife or the other man. He faces charges in Prince George’s County related to those incidents.
During Tuesday’s plea hearing, prosecutors from the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office presented Tordil as a vengeful man whose failed marriage, financial struggles and loss of a job motivated him to plan an attack against his wife and strangers. Notes recovered in Tordil’s car and home reveal that he knew his attacks would harm others and he expected to die at the hands of police, State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.
“To my brothers in blue, I ask your forgiveness and I hope you make it quick,” Tordil wrote in a suicide note that police found in his apartment.
In the courtroom, McCarthy described months of frustration for Tordil that acted as “fuel that motivates this series of killings.” Tordil said he felt “buried in debt” in a note recovered in his vehicle, and he had accumulated about $15,000 of credit card debt. In March 2016, Gladys Tordil filed a protective order against him, claiming he was violent and had shown pornographic images to their children.
Soon after, Tordil was suspended from his job as an officer with the Federal Protective Service. That agency and local police confiscated most of his weapons, but not a .40-caliber Glock handgun that he had bought in Las Vegas years earlier. Shells from this gun were later found at the three scenes of the shootings.
Tordil in his uniform (Via State's Attorney's Office)
McCarthy said Tordil was prepared for days of eluding police when he set out to attack his wife. He brought a tooth brush, shaving cream, his medications and more than $1,800 in cash. He rented a car so his wife wouldn't recognize his vehicle in the parking lot. His stepdaughter, Grace Tordil, witnessed the attack on her mother and was one of three people to call 911.
"My mom was inside the car and my stepfather came out of nowhere," she told the 911 operator, sounding distraught. "She told me to run."
Tordil told police he drove through the night before arriving in Bethesda the next day. Winffel was at the mall for lunch with a coworker when they both responded to a woman yelling for help. She had come to the mall to make a return and was coming back to her car when Tordil threatened to shoot her in the parking lot. He was looking for another car to escape in, according to prosecutors. Tordil shot both men, then the woman. The man who was injured told police Tordil was smiling as he shot them.
Speaking at a press conference after the hearing, McCarthy said Winffel's wife was honored that her husband died a hero and said she asked for prayers for herself and her children, who had "lost their superhero."
Molina had gone to the Aspen Hill Giant for a carton of milk when Tordil confronted her in the parking lot. Molina fought back and removed Tordil's glasses, and McCarthy said her daughter is proud that her mother might have saved more lives by doing so.
Police arrested Tordil in the parking lot across the street from Giant, the same parking lot where the Beltway snipers carried out one of their shootings in 2002. Officers recovered Tordil's gun and 80 additional rounds of ammunition in the car. McCarthy commended Montgomery County police for resolving the situation peacefully, especially considering that officers already knew he "wanted to commit suicide by cop."
"I will tell you I don't think the people of Montgomery County know the danger that Montgomery County police put themselves into," he said in court.
Family members of Winffel and Molina were present at the plea hearing, as were the survivors of the shootings. McCarthy said they wanted to put the tragedy behind them. He said the “only appropriate sentence” for Tordil would be life behind bars.
“We will be seeking the maximum sentence allowable by the law,” McCarthy said.