CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. (7News) — Two women are dead and a suspect is in custody after a shooting at a senior living facility in Capitol Heights Friday morning, authorities say. Capitol Heights police officers were called to the National Church Residences Gateway Village in the 500 block of Suffolk Avenue around 9:10 a.m. for a report of a disturbance.
When they arrived, they found a young man running out from behind the building and he told police there was an active shooter inside. The officers went into the building and found the first female victim in a corridor. As they continued into the building they found the second female victim. That's when they began to evacuate the building, sounding the alarms and called Prince George's County Police for backup.
7News Maryland Bureau Chief Brad Bell spoke to some of the residents who heard gunshots and saw parts of the event unfold.
A resident named Marietta, just returning home, says she heard the first shot, “I looked and I saw his hand go and he shot twice and I just ran.”
Many of the 89 residents evacuated. Others sheltered in place. In the crowd outside, several residents say they know the alleged shooter.
Multiple sources told him, the gunman was a male resident. He appeared near the first-floor management officers around 9 a.m. and opened fire.
A man who doesn’t want to be identified says the shooter -- who sources say had been fired from a maintenance job here -- was angry with building staff.
"And he snapped went down there and shot two of the managers,” he claimed.
Police asked neighbors to shelter in place as they tried to secure the building. The suspect was located on the third floor and taken into custody around 10:25 a.m. without incident. The scene was secured by noon. Capitol Heights Elementary School was placed on lockdown, too, out of an abundance of caution.
One man who 7News spoke to says the shooter told him "nobody is standing up for the seniors, I can't take it no more, I have to do something."
Another resident, Donald, said after the killings the shooter calmly told him to tell police he was no longer a threat.
“He had come out the house laid prostrate on the floor arms stretched out and the weapon 6 feet in front of him,” says Donald.
Families of those who live there were asked to gather outside at the firehouse at 6061 Old Central Avenue.
Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks called it "yet another case of inexplicable grief."
"First of all really want to extend our condolences and our prayers to the families of the victims in this case. We are absolutely devastated about the loss of life again today and as we think about it the depravity that we're seeing, just not only here in Prince George', but we're just seeing in general, is inexplicable," Alsobrooks said. "There really is no good explanation for why this kind of occurrence can happen again and again."
She said although they don't know the role that the suspect's mental health played in the shooting, the county has increased its mental health care services, job and rental assistance to help people.
"What we know is that COVID has impacted us in so many ways. We're still learning the true impact of COVID, but we know that mental health has been one of the issues that we believe is worsened," she added. "And it's not just for some of our older residents, but we know of course for adolescence and so we the government is responding by really increasing the availability of mental health and addiction care services for our residents."
"But the depravity is just, it's really, I'd say still it's just inexplicable; how you shoot in the senior facility? How you shoot children? All of this --- there are no words to go with it, and it really is very hard to understand," Alsobrooks added.
She thanked the officers for their quick responses and for preventing a further loss of life.
Officials said they'll turn their attention to the displaced seniors to make sure they have food and medicines. They hope to get the residents back into the building today. Officials are trying to account for all the residents.
Prince George's County reached 100 homicides for the year so far overnight. With these shootings, the county is at 102. In all of 2020, there were 94. In 2019, there were 57.
The Gateway Village website describes the apartment complex, which is only about a half-mile east of the D.C. line, as an “affordable rental community for seniors age 62+."
Watch the full press conference below:
National Church Residences released a statement about Friday's shooting:
We are extremely heartbroken by the events that occurred this morning at our affordable housing property Gateway Village, in Capitol Heights, Maryland. We are proud of the heroic and swift actions of our staff to ensure that our residents were protected and kept safe. Our hearts go out to the families of our two team members who lost their lives in this tragic and unfortunate incident. We are fully cooperating with authorities as they further investigate the details of the situation.