BROOKEVILLE, Md. - A widow of one of the victims killed in last week's triple shooting in Montgomery County is sharing her story and revealing more details about the gunman’s actions and the three brave victims who tried to stop him while helping her survive the ordeal.
Montgomery County police said Christopher Snyder fatally shot 66-year-old Mary Olson, 70-year-old Danny Murphy and 54-year-old Craig Shotwell at Olson’s home on Brown Farm Way in Brookeville on May 7.
During the rampage, police said three people also escaped from the home during the shooting. One of those people who got out safely is Joan Murphy, who lost her husband in the attack, as they were both visiting from South Dakota to see her longtime friend Olson in Maryland.
Five minutes before Snyder stormed into Olson’s house looking for his wife, Murphy and Olson were in the basement where they were trying to learn from Snyder's wife, who they called "Crew," what exactly what was going on.
"She said that her husband had locked her in since Saturday and this was Monday, and he had called her work and said that she would not be in and then asked her how she wanted to die,” Murphy told FOX 5. "She had a lot of fear. She was afraid that we would give her back to Chris and she was begging us, ‘Please don’t give me back to Chris’ and we assured her we wouldn’t.”
When Snyder's wife first showed up at the house looking for help, Shotwell, a contractor working at the home, made the initial call to 911. They then locked the back door. A worker who was helping Shotwell got into a vehicle and drove off.
Snyder showed up and tried to get into Olson's home, but could not. Murphy said the 41-year-old man then ran around to another entrance while Olson ran up from the basement to try to stop him.
"There was yelling going on and all I could hear was muffled voices, except for Mary was saying Chris' name over and over, louder and louder trying to get him, I imagine, to stop escalating,” Murphy said. “And the louder it got, the more I was concerned for ‘Crew,’ so I took her to the back door that led out to – it was a walkout basement – and told her to run.”
Murphy said she then heard the gunshots.
"It seemed like they were slow and spaced out at first and then just a spray of sound,” she recalled.
Murphy said she now knows her husband, Olson and Shotwell all died trying to stop Snyder from getting to his wife. She said by the grace of God she was spared while hiding behind a bush.
"As I got behind the bush, he walked by,” she said. “He was carrying an assault weapon.”
At that point, when Murphy thought it was safe, she went back into the house where she found Olson's husband, Rick, back home from work where he found all three of the victims shot.
“My friend Rick was on the phone with the police so I went directly to my husband,” said Murphy. “I thought he might still be alive. I checked his pulse and his breathing, but I could not find anything and I went over by Mary and by Craig and I knew that neither one of them were alive as well. Eventually I had Rick give me the phone so I could talk to 911 because he was very upset and I was afraid that they weren’t getting any details and we needed help quickly.”
Murphy said Rick Olson then left the house and went down the street where he met up with the police. She said officers then came to the home, got her and told her to run though the field and find a place to hide. Eventually, other officers found her and she was reunited with Snyder's wife.
While Murphy was hiding from Snyder, she said she saw a drone fly over the house.
Snyder would eventually barricade himself inside his house across the street before killing himself later that night when police broke in though his front door.
Murphy said her husband was a man with a dry sense of humor. He was a retired seventh grade English teacher who was also a gifted contractor. The money they made from that allowed them to travel the world. They had one son together. He will be buried on Saturday in South Dakota.
Shotwell's fold FOX 5 that that he was a father of three and a man of faith. Bill Shotwell said his younger brother was a “beautiful spirit” and losing him is the most terrible thing to happen to their family.
Shotwell’s close friend, Theresa Wells, said he took pride in his work as a contractor and was constantly helping others.
“I think that if he had to think about the situation that he was in, I don't know that he would have changed it because he would have wanted to do something,” said Wells. “We went his funeral on Saturday and it was just one person after another just standing up and saying just the same thing that I'm saying to you – that anything they ever needed, Craig was there for them.”
Mary Olson’s sister, Louis Tano, said Olson was also known for helping those in need and it was in her character to try to intervene to save lives.