Local Hero Died Protecting a Total Stranger
“My father is a hero. He has always been a hero.”
Those words, spoken through the tears by a grieving daughter, cut through the evening air and rang out over the empty Clarksburg High School football field, they echoed back to the hundreds of people gathered for a vigil for Malcom “Mike” Winffel on Saturday night.
Malcom Winffel was killed Friday morning as he and another man came to the aid of a woman who police believe was being carjacked by Eulalio Sevilla Tordil in the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Police say Tordil shot and killed Winffel, and left the other man in critical condition from a gunshot at Suburban Hospital. The female they were protecting suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound.
Police in both Montgomery County and Prince George’s County had been looking for 62-year-old Tordil after he killed his estranged wife at High Point High School in Prince George County on Thursday night. Police believe that Tordil was attempted to carjack the woman at the mall because police were searching for his rental vehicle.
Malcom “Mike” Winffel was 45-years-old, he lived in Boyds with his wife, Norma, and two children who attend Clarksburg High School, Kayla, a senior, and Brandon, a freshman.
“Malcom Winffel gave his life for somebody he doesn’t know in order to protect her from a predator,” said Assistant Montgomery County Police Chief Russ Hamill at a press conference held Saturday night at Police Headquarters.
Chief Hamill said, “We want to note that Mr. Malcom Winffel and the other male victim, which we will not identify at this time, were, in fact, coming to the aid of the female victim that Mr. Tordil attacked outside of Macy’s. We know that he was attempting to take her car, and these two gentlemen stepped in to assist her. In an instant, after the female victim called out for help, these two men acted selflessly and heroically. Not only coming to her aid but likely saving her life. These men are heroes.”
“It is not something you can train people to do,” said Hamill, “you have to be born with that. Luckily for our victim there these two men were born with that, and they went immediately to her aid.”
Police believe that Tordil left the mall in Bethesda and headed to the Aspen Hill area of Silver Spring where he once again attempted to carjack another female victim in the parking lot of a Giant Food Store. However, the victim resisted, and Tordil shot and kill her. That victim has been identified as 65-year-old Claudina Molina of Silver Spring.
Montgomery County Police arrested Tordil at an adjacent shopping mall about an hour later. He was arrested without further incident.
At the vigil in Clarksburg on Saturday, Assistant Police Chief Darryl McSwain praised Malcom Winffel as a hero. “I never met Mr. Winffel, but to a degree, I feel that I almost know him. He lived a selfless life, one that was devoted to service to family, community, and many others. But he was also sensitive to the needs of others. That he didn’t have to know a person to care for them. I didn’t know him personally, but I know his character.”
Through tears and song, the Clarksburg community came together to mourn Malcom Winffel. Members of the Clarksburg High School chorus paid tribute with song, students Selena Rawlley and Carole Botello performed Amazing Grace, and the Freshman Ensemble sang “Homage,” by Z. Randall Stroope.
Malcom Winffel’s brother, Andy, said his family knew that his brother was a superhero long before he gave his life attempting to aid a stranger in trouble on Friday morning.
Andy Winffel told those gathered that his brother loved his family, his community, soccer, the Dallas Cowboys, and joking with just about everyone, but more than anything he enjoyed helping people. Andy’s brother “Mike” was a jokester and prankster and no one was spared as the subject of Mike’s jokes and pranks. “He joked with everyone. He would annoy the (snot) of you, but it was all in good fun and he more than made up for it by always offering to help others. Everyone would say let’s ask Mike for help. Mike could fix anything. He could build anything. He could move anything. He was our superhero.”
The superhero was known as “The Tank” or “El Tanque” in Spanish, on the soccer field where he played with his brother at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Wednesday nights. “He was a big menacing force on the field. He was big but very agile. Everyone called him The Tank, or ‘la pared,' which means The Wall. Everyone who knew him would most notably remember him as a happy-go-lucky guy. He was rarely in a bad mood.”
He was also known to many as a scout leader. He was a leader of Germantown Boy Scout Troop 489, which meets at Neelsville Presbyterian Church. Members of Troop 489 presented the colors and stood as an honor guard during the vigil.
“My brother died doing what he most loved,” said Andy Winffel. “He died helping others. He died a hero.”
Malcom Winffel’s daughter Kayla, a senior at Clarksburg High School, who is set to graduate later this month, addressed those gathered and said, “My father is a hero. He has always been a hero. He was the strength of my family. The gentle wall that held us up. Though he is no longer in this world, he has left us with his strength. My love for him will carry on, and he will never be forgotten.”
Friends and family of Malcom “Mike” Winffel have started a GoFundMe.com page to help pay for funeral costs and to help with college costs for his two children.
Winffel’s killer has been charged in Montgomery County with two counts of first- degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and four counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Top: Malcom “Mike” Winffel, 45, of Boyds was killed Friday coming to the aid of a woman who was the victim of an attempted carjacking at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Photo from GoFundMe.com.
Next: Andy Winffel speaks to the hundreds of folks gathered to mourn and remember his brother Malcom.
Next: Assistant Police Chief Darryl McSwain conveys the Montgomery County Police Department’s condolences to the Winffel family.
Next: Members of Clarksburg High School chorus performed a few selections during the memorial service for Malcom Winffel on Saturday evening.
Next: Residents, friends, and family write messages of condolence to the Winffel family on a large white sheet of paper. The sheet will be hung in the hallway of Clarksburg High School this week.
Next: Hundreds gathered to remember Malcom “Mike” Winffel at Clarksburg High School on Saturday evening.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.