Federal judge shoots and kills himself after holding a 13-year-old girl and her parents hostage in their home in 10-hour SWAT team standoff
Timothy Maher, 51, killed himself early on Friday in a home outside of Miami
Suicide ended a 10-hour hostage standoff where he held his brother–in-law 49, his wife Ana, 49, and their 13-year-old daughter Sara at gun point
the tragic incident came on the heels of recent charges for threatening his four-year-old child and his ex-girlfriend with a gun
Police had twice coaxed Maher from being locked in his home in the past week
Maher was a federal administrative judge who reviewed Social Security claims
Judge Timothy Maher, ended the standoff with a self-inflicted gunshot wound around 8.20am on Friday morning in a home outside of Miami, allowing the 13-year-old girl and her parents to escape uninjured.
Maher, a federal administrative judge with 10 years on the bench, allegedly spiraled out of control in recent days. The episode previously led to an arrest and multiple police contacts over a dispute with the estranged mother of his four-year-old son.
Police said Maher was related to the hostages, but it is unclear how. Although the precise connection was not stated, officers believe the late judge was related to the hostages. Neighbours said that the homeowner may have been the judge’s brother-in-law.
The standoff with the SWAT team began late Thursday with a plaintive text message to 911 reading simply: ‘please help’.
Timothy Maher leaves court after booking for a road rage incident earlier in the month
Land records show the home is owned by a man named Jose M. Rodriguez.
Neighbors were roused from their beds and rushed outside the police perimeter, as cops tried to reason with the deranged judge.
Police said there were several hours of direct communication with Maher, but that the talks suddenly ceased.
Police said the hostages included a 49-year-old homeowner and his 49-year-old wife and their 13-year-old daughter.
Hostage negotiators proceeded appealing to Maher using a megaphone, allowing cameras from CBS4 to capture parts of their pleas.
‘Jose, Tim or Ana, we are not going anywhere. All you have to do is turn your lights on and off so that we know you are okay – a simple request please,’ the police negotiator said through the megaphone.
When nothing happened, the request was repeated: ‘Your honor if you are in that residence, please you or someone else inside the house turn the lights on so that we know everyone is okay, we don’t need to escalate this at all.’
At that point the lights flicked on, and the negotiator pleaded with Maher to release the teen girl.
‘I know you are a good father Tim. Do me a favor, as a sign of good (faith), please be willing to let Sara come out the front door. She is a 13-year-old girl and does not need to go through all of this. You’re a father, please let the girl out the front door,’ said the negotiator.
The negotiator asked Maher to flash the lights if he would consider releasing the girl, and the lights flashed, but no one emerged.
The standoff ended around 8.20am when police heard a gunshot inside the house. As officers rushed toward the residence, the three hostages emerged.
Police found Maher dead inside the home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. A police spokesman said no officers fired their weapons during the incident.
The three hostages inside the home, including a teenage girl, were not hurt and escaped the home moments after he fired the fatal gunshot nearly ten hours into the standoff.
On August 15, the ex-girlfriend told police that when she went to pick up their son from Maher’s home in El Portal, he greeted her holding the boy and wearing a handgun on his hip, according to a police record reported by the Miami Herald.
The ex said that Maher waved a flashlight in her eyes and verbally threatened her. When she took the boy and drove away, she said that Maher pointed a gun towards the rear of her car.
Police responded to the ex-girlfriend’s complaint and found Maher locked inside his home and hiding behind a wall.
A perimeter was set up, but the supervisor on the scene was able to coax Maher from the home, and he was arrested.
Maher was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, child abuse with no great bodily harm and resisting arrest without violence.
In an emotional appeal to a criminal judge, he said that he had worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney and senior counsel to the Treasury Department prior to taking the bench as an administrative judge for the Social Security Administration.
‘The mother of my child has called the police not less than five times prior to last night,’ Maher told the judge in bond court.
‘Each time making more incendiary and fantastic allegations against me. I did not have a gun on me last night. I did not point a gun at anyone.’
‘It is astonishing to me that one person can make an accusation so fantastic and not grounded in reality that the result of me spending the night at TGK [the Miami jail]. This is horrifically embarrassing,’ he said.
Maher was released on $13,000 bond and ordered to stay away from his ex-girlfriend.
The next day, police went to retrieve his firearms and another incident ensued when Maher again barricaded himself, before eventually being talked out and handing over the weapons.
On Tuesday, a worker at the Social Security Administration building in downtown Miami, where Maher worked reviewing disability claims, received a death threat.
The threat, which police immediately assumed came from Maher, shut the building down on Tuesday and Wednesday. But Maher remained in the wind until surfacing during the hostage crisis on Thursday night.
On Friday morning, neighbors near the standoff scene were relieved that the crisis was over, but baffled about why it had occurred in the first place.