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Two men shot outside a Maryland shopping center Friday during a spree of violence were running to the aid of a woman being carjacked, and police on Saturday called them heroes who probably saved the woman’s life.
One of the two men, 45-year-old Malcom Winffel, later died and the other man suffered serious injuries and was in critical condition Saturday, police said.
"In an instant, after the female victim cried out for help, these two men acted selflessly and heroically — not only coming to her aid, but likely saving her life,” Montgomery County Police Assistant Chief Russ Hamill told reporters.
"These men are heroes," Hamill said. "Malcom Winffel gave his life for somebody he doesn't know, in order to protect her from a predator."
The deadly gunfire was the first of two shootings outside shopping centers Friday that paralyzed the Washington, D.C., area. Students were told to shelter in place at schools and the shootings evoked memories of the "Beltway sniper" killings.
Eulalio Tordil, 62, allegedly gunned down his estranged wife, Gladys, outside a Prince George’s County high school Thursday before carrying out the shootings Friday in neighboring Montgomery County.
All of the shootings Friday are believed to have been motivated by attempted carjackings, Hamill said.
Tordil is accused of shooting Winffel and the other man outside a Macy’s department store at around 11:13 a.m. Another woman was also wounded. Tordil then allegedly shot and killed another driver, 65-year-old Claudina Molina, after she resisted a carjacking outside a Giant supermarket, police said.
Winfell's family did not wish to make any public statements Saturday.
Tordil, a federal law enforcement officer placed on administrative duties and stripped of his government-issued weapon, is charged with one count of first-degree murder for the killing in Prince George’s County and two counts of murder and other counts for the shootings in Montgomery County.
Thursday at around 4:30 p.m. Tordil allegedly shot his estranged wife outside High Point High School, where she was picking up her teenage daughters, police and a family friend said.
"It was just their normal routine. Her mom was waiting to pick them up," Chris Mejia, a friend of Gladys Tordil’s two daughters, told NBC News Saturday.
The youngest child, 16, was "in the band room at the time and she was a witness to her mother being shot," he said.
Prince George’s County police put out a description of the vehicle in that shooting, and went to several addresses associated with Tordil to make sure he wasn’t planning on hurting anyone else or hide there, police said.
Plainclothes police spotted Tordil at a shopping center and restaurant near the scene of the second shooting Friday and kept him under surveillance, police said. Officers moved in at around 2:48 p.m. after he left the restaurant and was away from crowds, and arrested him without incident, police said.
"He knew his car was out there and we were looking for it," Hamill said of Tordil remaining near the scene of the deadly shooting.
Police Friday night searched the car and found a .40-caliber Glock handgun, police said. Tests showed the weapon was used in Friday’s shootings, and police believe it was likely was used in the killing of Gladys Tordil, Hamill said.
Gladys Tordil’s daughters are doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, Mejia, senior class president at the high school, said.
“They are both doing fine," Mejia said. "I just check up on them to see how they are doing."
Mejia said that he and a tight knit group of friends from the school intend to spend Mother's Day comforting them.
Gladys Tordil was a chemistry teacher at Parkdale High School, Prince George’s County Public Schools said.
"Ms. Tordil was a beloved staff member. Students will be deeply affected by her death," the school district said in a statement.
Her older daughter, 17, was on her way to the school to meet up with her mother and sister at the school but hadn't arrived yet, he said.
Most of the girls’ family is in the Philippines, Mejia said. Mejia set up a GoFundMe page for them, as their school teacher mom was the only means of support the two college-bound teens had.
He had hoped to raise $10,000, but by Saturday afternoon donors had contributed more than $23,000. The money will go toward a scholarship fund, according to the fundraising effort.
“It's basically a question of whether or not they are going to go to the Philippines or stay here," Mejia said. "Our goal is whether they leave or stay, that they are financially stable. We support them whatever decision they make."