Police: Gunman Kills Estranged Wife’s Boyfriend, Attempts Suicide In Laurel

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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LAUREL, Md.  (WJZ ) — Police say a man fatally shot a man who was dating his estranged wife before attempting to kill himself in Laurel.

Mike Schuh reports the estranged wife says her boyfriend died in her arms.

Thursday morning, Cathy Mendiola sat on her front porch unable to move, her clothes still covered in her boyfriend’s blood. She says she tried to shield him but could not.

The fatal shooting and suicide attempt happened around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday in the 3300-block of Sudlersville South.

“I would not think he would have done this,” Cathy Mendiola said.

She clutches the Orioles jersey worn by Howard Popp Jr. when he died in her arms.

“I watched him take his last breath,” Cathy Mendiola said.

Anne Arundel County police say Cathy Mendiola separated from 39-year-old Robert Mendiola last month and had taken out a protective order against him that was in effect until July 15.

“He threaten me and told me in the past if he can’t have me, no one can,” she said.

Robert Mendiola had been trying to get back together with his wife but she was she was now dating 39-year-old Howard Popp.

She and Popp met at Shoppers grocery store, where they both worked. He was the produce manager. They began dating two months ago.

“He was a good guy, a hard working guy,” she said of Popp. “Ever since I met him I was happy. He always finds a way to make me laugh.”

She was married to Robert Mendiola for 20 years. They have seven kids.

Wednesday night, police say Mendiola approached his wife and Popp as they sat in a car in front of her home. When the pair left the car, police say Robert Mendiola shot Popp several times, killing him.

“My ex-husband came and shot Howard in the head,” she said.

Cathy Mendiola’s was warned something like this might happen.

“That he would kill me and kill himself,” she said.

Police say Mendiola then fled on foot to the 300-block of Old Line Avenue, where he barricaded himself in a shed.

“And he had used the gun and attempted suicide. He shot himself in the head,” said Lt. T.J. Smith, Anne Arundel County Police.

Mendiola did not succeed. He was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Hospital, where he remains Thursday with life-threatening injuries.

Police say if Mendiola recovers, and it’s doubtful, he will be charged with murder and assault.

The victim lived in Baltimore and has relatives in Pennsylvania.

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