A woman coming home after celebrating her 32nd birthday was gunned down by her ex-husband in the parking lot of a Fort Washington apartment complex early Wednesday, police and her family said.
Detectives are investigating the case as a murder-suicide after the man then turned the gun on himself, authorities said.
Shortly after midnight, police arrived at the 7200 block of Jaywick Avenue to answer calls about a shooting, Prince George’s County police said. Officers found Lester Lee Fletcher Jr., also 32, and Michelle Miranda-Fletcher suffering from gunshot wounds outside the apartment building where she lived.
Police said the two, who had recently divorced, were pronounced dead on the scene. Witnesses heard the couple arguing before shots rang out, police said.
Fletcher shot his ex-wife multiple times before shooting himself, authorities said.
“The preliminary investigation suggests the gunman, the woman’s ex-husband, was waiting for her when she arrived,” police said in a statement. “The suspect drove up to the woman’s car and began to threaten her.”
Marcela Miranda, 71, Miranda-Fletcher’s mother, said her daughter had just returned from a night of celebrating with four girlfriends. She said her daughter leaves behind a 13-year-old son.
“I can’t say anything right now,” said Miranda, holding back tears. “She’s a good girl. My only child.”
Maryland court records show that Miranda-Fletcher filed for divorce in September and that the divorce was finalized last month. Maryland case records also show that Miranda-Fletcher had applied for a temporary protective order against her then-husband in November 2013, alleging that he left her threatening phone messages saying “you won’t get away with leaving me.”
She also accused Fletcher of vandalizing her company car. After hearing two bangs outside her home one night, “I look out the window and notice a female busting the window of the vehicle. She [then] jumped in my husband’s vehicle in the passenger side and he sped off,” she wrote in her request for a protective order.
A temporary order was granted until a hearing could be held, according to court records. But after the case came to court, a judge denied the request Dec. 4, saying Miranda-Fletcher “could not meet the required burden of proof.”
Miranda-Fletcher is the 13th homicide victim in Prince George’s this year; that figure is down from 22 at the same time last year. While there are fewer homicides, domestic violence remains a problem that county leaders have been trying to address.
In October, Prince George’s announced a new initiative to help reduce domestic violence, introducing a 211 hotline that victims can call to get confidential help and a police unit dedicated to domestic violence cases.
“We have made some headway,” said Lt. William Alexander, a county police spokesman. “But it will be a battle that we will always fight.”