ABERDEEN, Md. — A witness to the deadly rampage inside a Maryland granite company said Thursday that the suspect, Radee Prince, had gathered a small group of his co-workers together by saying “come with me, I want to say something to everybody.” Without another word, he opened fire.
The witness, a man who worked at the countertop making company for a year and a half, said when Prince arrived on Wednesday morning he responded to a polite greeting with harsh language describing Advanced Granite Solutions and its workers. Then he tried to talk individually to a few employees.
“He talked to me first,” said the man, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he was afraid of retaliation and worried about his family’s immigration status. “Then I saw him talk to another friend. Nobody listened to him, because his reaction was to start a fight.”
The employee said Prince had approached him a month ago and angrily accused him of gossiping. Since then, the man had been even more worried about Prince.
Prince had a history of violence with co-workers, especially when he believed people were talking behind his back, according to court documents. Authorities have not released a motive, but the witness said Prince’s aggressiveness had been escalating recently.
Prince is accused of fatally shooting three colleagues and critically wounding two others. Authorities said he then drove to Wilmington, Delaware, and shot an acquaintance at a used car lot. He was captured after a 10-hour manhunt.
Prince faces charges of murder, attempted murder, assault and use of a firearm to commit a felony. At his arraignment Thursday in Delaware, he pleaded not guilty.
According to an affidavit, officers found a .380-caliber semi-automatic they saw Prince throw away while running from them, and they found the same size shells at the Wilmington shooting scene. Police think it’s the same gun he used in the Maryland shooting.
The granite company employee said he worked on a small fabrication team, and that several of his colleagues had complained before Wednesday to supervisors about Prince’s behavior.
Just before the shooting, Prince walked out to his SUV and put on a black jacket, the witness said. Then he walked back inside and stood near a machine with an odd look on his face. Prince then called the man’s name, and asked him and his colleagues to come toward him.
“I was nervous,” the witness said, adding that he believes he was the one Prince was trying to target.
The man said once the group gathered around, Prince shot Enis Mrvoljak, 48, of Dundalk. Then, Bayarsaikhan Tudev, 53, of Arlington, Virginia. He also killed Jose Hidalgo Romero, 34, of Aberdeen, authorities said.
Tudev’s widow told AP that her husband was so worried about Prince’s temper that he prayed about him.
“He was always angry,” Gerelmaa Dolgorsuren said her husband told her about Prince.
Tudev, 53, was a native of Mongolia who came to the U.S. in 2005. He and his wife settled in Arlington, which has a large Mongolian-American community.
Prince also shot at the witness as he ran away; he lost a boot while trying to flee, he said.
Ron Cherry, an attorney for the company, said he could not answer questions about what happened.
But Cristie Kahler, a spokeswoman for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed that video surveillance footage at the company showed Prince seeming to call a meeting before the shooting. She could not provide further details.
Kahler also said that investigators were aware that employees had complained about Prince’s behavior at Advanced Granite Solutions, as well as at prior workplaces.
Prince had 43 arrests in Delaware. He has faced charges of being a felon in possession of a gun, was habitually late paying his rent, was repeatedly cited for traffic violations, and was ordered to undergo drug and alcohol counseling in recent years.
He had at least two other violent run-ins with co-workers. In 2014, he put a colleague in a chokehold because he thought he was talking about Prince, a manager told police. Prince dragged the co-worker outside and slammed him to the ground, causing him to lose consciousness.
Prince was charged with offensive touching, but the case was dismissed last year. It’s not clear why.
Earlier this year, Prince was fired from JPS Marble and Granite after he punched a co-worker and threatened other colleagues, according to court documents. His former boss became so scared of Prince after he was fired that he tried to take out a restraining order on him. A judge didn’t grant it.
Late Thursday, authorities identified the wounded in Maryland as Enoc Villegas Sosa, 38, and Jose Roberto Flores Gillen, 37. They remain in critical condition.
Police in Delaware have not updated the condition of the victim there, but have said he is expected to survive. Prince was accused last year of punching that man and trying to rob him, said Nicole Magnusson, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Justice.
He was charged with robbery and offensive touching, but that case was also dismissed. It’s not clear why.
Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia, and Matthew Barakat in Arlington, Virginia, contributed to this report.