BROOKEVILLE, Md. (ABC7) — In a strange twist of fate, Christopher Snyder may have very well trained some of the law enforcement officers who surrounded his house in droves Monday.
Snyder gained the immediate attention of Montgomery County Police when he shot and killed three people at a neighbor's home along Brown Farm Way.
As police explain it, Snyder held his wife against her will during the weekend. Around 3:40 p.m. Monday, his wife escaped, ran across the street and entered a neighbor's home. Snyder forced his way into that house, killing Mary Olson, 66; Danny Murphy, 70; and Craig Shotwell, 54. Three people, including Snyder's wife and Murphy's wife, managed to escape alive. Snyder then returned to his home where he refused to peacefully surrender. When SWAT members breached the front door shortly after 11 p.m., Snyder shot and killed himself.
On Tuesday, neighbors had nothing kind to say about Snyder. The variety of words used to describe the 41-year-old, included: aggressive, blowhard, cocky, private and strange – the kind of person you best not cross in a moment of disagreement most agreed.
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"It always looked like he was wearing a bulletproof vest, had a cap on, always had sunglasses on, driving a dark-stealthy car," Becky Sisson said to a gaggle of reporters. “We all pretty much knew to stay away from this guy. He was just, we knew that his ducks weren’t all lining up. Something was off with him."
Other neighbors shared that Snyder often kept his blinds closed and security signs prominently placed throughout his yard. One such sign reads, "24 hour recorded surveillance – closed circuit television." Police have not said what, if anything, Snyder's cache of security cameras captured in the moments leading up to the triple fatal ambush, and subsequent standoff.
According to multiple law enforcement sources, Snyder worked as a trainer at Code 3 Tactical Academy located in Columbia, Maryland, where he taught mixed martial arts, self-defense and tactical courses. At the 12,000-square-foot gym, however, Snyder went by the name, Chris Smith. A video posted on the facility's Facebook page featured Snyder's skill set.
“I train military. I’ve done the private military contracting, 15 to 16 years, federal government, DOD side of it, 13 styles that I teach. I’ve created my own defense tactics," said Snyder, who was wearing a black do-rag and all black clothing during the filming. “Is it my duty as a human to help another human, and that’s what I believe in, and that’s what I teach people.”
During the two-minute clip, Snyder credited his grandfather for introducing him to karate and judo at the age of 6. The 41-year-old is later shown taking people to the gym floor with single-strike moves.
"Self-defense is not applying force or injury to the person that you’re against, it's applying enough force to get away from the situation, and to go home at night and be safe," Snyder added in the video. "Ninety percent of everything can be de-escalated with words, with actions, the way that you express yourself."
According to the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation, Code 3 Tactical Academy is owned by Keith Lynn. An online professional biography identifies Lynn as a "highly decorated" retired D.C. Police officer. The same biography stated Lynn previously worked as a guard at a maximum-security prison.
"I have been in law enforcement for over 31 years and I learned more in one session with Chris than I did in all of the defensive tactics in-services I attended," a retired FBI supervisory special agent wrote in an online testimonial on Code 3 Tactical Academy's website. "These techniques are extremely effective and they can be used for almost any encounter a law enforcement officer runs into while he/she is on the street."
Snyder is linked to at least two additional businesses, a security systems company named Identity Solutions Inc. and a federally-licensed gun dealer named Black Widow Enterprises. Both companies listed Snyder's home along Brown Farm Way as its mailing address.
On Tuesday, investigators called on a locksmith to assist in opening an undisclosed number of gun storage units within Snyder's residence. Agents with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were assisting with the case.
In June 2017, Montgomery County Police charged Snyder with concealing a dangerous weapon and drug possession. Snyder, however, had the case expunged, preventing additional information from being released to the public. The only other police infraction on record was a 1996 speeding ticket in Anchorage, Alaska.
Online records show between 1995 and 1998, Snyder bounced between Texas and the Elmendorf Air Force Base outside of Anchorage, Alaska. In 1998, he moved to Maryland where he has lived ever since. In 2012, Snyder purchased his Brookeville home, valued at around $800,000.
Although Snyder frequently claimed to have military experience, and certain online documents seem to substantiate those claims, ABC7 has not been able to verify specifics with the U.S. Armed Forces. A request with the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, is pending.
ABC7 spoke off camera with one of Snyder's friends who had not yet heard about the news. That friend, who asked that he not be named, revealed Snyder phoned him at 3:42 p.m. Monday. The friend did not answer that call, which Snyder made exactly two minutes before the first report to Montgomery County 911.