Authorities in Maryland and Virginia are searching for a Lebanese restaurateur suspected of killing his former wife's boyfriend Saturday at a Jessup motel.
The suspect, Adel George Hagez, 48, of Richmond, Va., and the owner of several Lebanese restaurants in Virginia, NewYork City and Washington, has been charged in a warrant with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Riad S. Hijas, 45, also of Richmond. Police believe Hagez traced the couple from Virginia to Howard County.
Police said the two men grew up together in the same village in Lebanon and both had ties to the Lebanese restaurant business.
Hijas was shot several times at point-blank range after Hagez confronted him outside a Holiday Inn motel room at U.S. 1 and Route 175, said Glenn Hansen, a Howard County police detective.
Police say the shooting was the result of a rivalry between the two men over Hagez's former wife, who divorced him in March.
Hagez is believed to be heading back to his home in Henrico County, where several of his Lebanese friends and relatives live, Hansen said. Police there have been notified that he may be in the area or en route.
Officials from the FBI are assisting in the search.
"Since he's an esteemed member of theLebanese community, we strongly believe he is looking to take cover back in Virginia, where he may think he has a better chance of hiding," Hansen said.
Hagez, who also has numerous restaurant investments in New York and Washington, is believed to be armed with the .38-caliber handgun used in the killing and is considered extremely dangerous, police said.
Hansen said detectives "know of quite a few of his business associates" and expect to interview them about Hagez's whereabouts.
The shooting occurred about 9:50 a.m. after Hagez, whom police believe had been tailing his former wife around the area, knocked loudly on the fourth-floor room where she and Hijas were staying.
Police said the woman answered the door to find Hagez standing outside with a gun in his hand. She ran by him and began screaming in the hallway when Hagez fired approximately three shots at Hijas, hitting him in the upper chest, police said.
Hagez fled from the building. Hijas was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was not injured.
Police said witnesses reported that Hagez had been at the Columbia City Fair earlier in the day trying to find his former wife, who had registered a Mediterranean restaurant booth at the event.
Hagezlearned from other booth operators that his ex-wife had been stayingat the Holiday Inn with Hijas, police said.