MIDDLETOWN — A homicide victim was seen on surveillance video being chased by a pickup truck before being gunned down early Tuesday morning, according to police.
The 41-year-old man, who police haven’t identified, ran from the Liberty gas station at 90 Reliance Road in Middletown, according to Lt. Warren W. Gosnell, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. The man was nearly struck by the pickup, which swerved toward him before witnesses in the store heard two shots and called 911. The man was found in the parking lot of a nearby McDonald’s restaurant at 85 Reliance Road about 3:20 a.m. on Tuesday and pronounced dead at the scene.
Police released an image of one of the alleged suspects caught on the gas station surveillance video. He is a thin white man who appears to be in his 20s or 30s and is wearing a dark blue, long-sleeved shirt which has NIKE written on the front in green letters. The man is wearing a camouflage baseball cap.
An image of the pickup also was released. It is an older model silver or gold Ford F-150 with an extended cab and rust on the lower passenger door. Gosnell said a man who drove away from the gas station in a silver, four-door car may also be connected to the killing. He said the man in the car entered the store and then exited right after the victim ran out. The car driver drove off in the direction of the pickup.
The McDonald’s is about 200 yards in front of the Econo Lodge Hotel & Suites, which is off Interstate 81. The victim was a guest at the hotel, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Frederick County Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon.
Sheriff’s Office Investigator J.J. Hackett wrote in the affidavit that a suspect in the homicide was seen on hotel surveillance video visiting the victim’s room before the killing. Business cards, a debit card, two phones and a planner were among the items seized in the room, according to the affidavit.
It’s unclear how long the victim had been staying at the hotel. Hotel management wouldn’t comment on Tuesday.
Gosnell said the delay in naming the victim is due to police not being able to notify the man’s father. Gosnell said he was unsure of the motive for the killing or why the suspect visited the victim, but said investigators are pursuing leads. “They’re still trying to piece everything together,” he said.
Witnesses said deputies with flashlights searched the McDonald’s parking lot and surrounding area for several hours after the killing. Angela and William Franklin, who were staying at the Econo Lodge, said they were unable to leave for a medical appointment at 4:15 a.m. because the road was blocked off. The Franklins said they saw about about eight police cruisers at the scene and that deputies also searched outside the hotel.
Lane Ferguson, a McDonald’s manager, said the body of the victim was covered with a sheet in the front parking lot when he arrived about 4:50 a.m. He said police left the scene about 9:30 a.m.
The McDonald’s, which is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., delayed opening for several hours due to the killing. Ferguson said seeing the body was a shock. “I’m still shaken,” he said.