One of four people fatally shot in an apparent murder-suicide outside a Maryland pizza restaurant early Saturday morning had worked there, police said.
The occupants of a dark blue Prius – driver Gregory R. Akins, 50, and his two children, Jessica C. Akins, 18, and Rodney H. Akins, 10 – opened fire on Nicole Paulino, 39, outside the restaurant about 1:45 a.m., Baltimore Police Chief T.J. Smith said in a press conference.
Nicole Paulino was pronounced dead at the scene, while Akins’ children died shortly after arrival at a hospital, Smith said. The third victim, a 51-year-old man, was found shot inside the car, he said.
“The fourth, which occurred in the store a short time later, I can confirm was a 29-year-old male employee of the restaurant who has self-inflicted gunshot wounds,” Smith said.
Police did not identify the employees and suspect, but Smith said there was a protection order in place against Akins, who had no known history of domestic violence. He did not provide further details about the order.
Akins reportedly walked into Quick Smokin’ II in Westport wearing camouflage gear and “demanding to speak with Nicole Paulino,” Smith said.
“As the doors were going open, that’s when the suspect fired off multiple shots,” Smith said. “Nicole Paulino, 39 years old, was shot multiple times.”
Smith said after the shooting, Akins drove away from the scene, got out of the vehicle and began firing again.
Akins eventually abandoned the car at the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from the restaurant and walked into a nearby convenience store, where he shot and killed himself.
Quick Smokin’ II is a pizzeria with a sushi bar, where police said Akins and Nicole Paulino worked.
Avery Ilg, a manager at Quick Smokin’ II, told The Baltimore Sun that Akins and Paulino were co-workers.
“I’m devastated. This is something I can’t even explain to you,” Ilg said, adding he saw Paulino just two days before the shooting.
“She was one of our most loving employees. We would always see each other outside the store,” Ilg said. “He had the biggest heart.”
Ilg described Akins as an emotional man who described himself as “an emotional guy” and had worked at the restaurant since it opened last month.
Smith called Akins a “distraught, upset person” and said he was a “sudden, dark, unusual gunman” in the incident.
The suspect was found dead on a hill above Quick Smokin’ II. Police believe he committed suicide by “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Smith said the suspect’s children lived with their mother in New Jersey. Their mother was not injured.
Police are looking into the potential role of drugs and alcohol in the shooting.
Iugess said the victim did not have any criminal history. Smith said that Akins was not on law enforcement’s radar before the shooting.
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