While some residents of Germantown were worrying about getting their tax returns completed before the midnight deadline on Monday, April 15, one family was worried about surviving the night as a crazed ex-husband held them hostage at gunpoint in their own home for five hours, as he raved about killing them and himself.
5th District Officers, Corporal Sean Santos, Officer Andre Smith, and Officer Elvis Cruz brought the ordeal to a quick end as they entered the residence and captured the suspect as he held a knife to the throat of his wife.
Montgomery County Police arrested 28-year-old Zain U. Imdad, of the 13200 block of Country Ridge Drive in Germantown and charged him with five counts of Attempted 1st Degree Murder, five counts of Attempted 2nd Degree Murder, five counts of 1st Degree Assault, five counts of 2nd Degree Assault, Home Invasion, Violation of a Protection Order, Carrying a Concealed Dangerous Weapon, Possession of a Dangerous Weapon with the Intent to Injure.
“The efforts of these three officers make me proud to be a Montgomery County Police Officer,” said 5th District Commander, Capt. Mark Plazinski, “They responded to a domestic violence case, where it is clear the suspect intended to do great harm to the victim and her family. Corporal Santos, Officer Smith, and Cruz, were quickly able to take this suspect into custody without anyone, including the suspect being harmed. This is evidence of the quality of officers we hire and the excellent training they receive. I am thankful that they are part of the 5th District Team.”
The quick thinking and bravery of MCPD officers surely saved lives on that Monday. Germantown Pulse has acquired the Statement of Charges and the following harrowing account of what happened in that townhouse over the five hours on April 15 will use fictitious names to protect the innocent victims in this case.
The ordeal began about an hour after “Navin” arrived home from middle-school. As he exited the basement, he was met by Zain Imdad as he left his bedroom to go to the bathroom. Imdad pointed a black handgun at “Navin” and ordered him to hand over his cell phone and go to the basement of the house. Police later determined that Imdad had broken into the home by cutting the glass on a sliding glass door and removed the 2x4 from the door track which was used prevented it from moving.
Imdad threatened to shoot “Navin” if he did not comply. “Navin” knew who Imdad was because of Imdad’s relationship with his family member, “Jaya.”
Imdad had met “Jaya” in early 2018, and the two began dating. However, “Jaya” broke off the relationship because Imdad had been pressuring her to get married and she was not willing to take the next step. In the summer of 2018, Imdad informed “Jaya” that if the relationship did not continue, he would shoot himself. According to court documents, Imdad shot himself, but the wound was not fatal. “Upon [Imdad’s] recovery, he told [Jaya] that she needed to marry him, or he would harm her, and kill her family,” state the charging documents. “Jaya” was now afraid of Imdad and consented to marry him at the Montgomery County Courthouse in September of 2018. She did not notify her family of the marriage. The couple lived separately, and during this time “Jaya” became more fearful for her safety and that of her family if she left Imdad.
In March of 2019, “Jaya” finally broke down and told her family about the marriage and her fear of Imdad. With her family’s assistance “Jaya” obtained a Protective Order against Imdad on March 19 which prohibited Imdad from having any contact with “Jaya.” The Protective Order did not stop Imdad. He has violated the order numerous times “Jaya” told the police. In March, “Jaya” and her family moved to a new residence and did not tell Imdad where they had moved.
On March 28, Imdad filed an appeal of the protective order in Rockville District Court. Two days later, on March 30, Imdad was charged with Violating the Protective Order.
On the afternoon of April 15, Imdad held “Navin” at gunpoint in the basement as they waited for “Jaya” to come home. She entered the residence in Germantown with her brother-in-law “Sai” at about 5:30 pm. Imdad ordered “Navin” to call “Jaya” and “Sai” down to the basement saying that he needed their help. They were met with Imdad pointing a gun at both of them and took their cell phones.
Imdad told them, “I need my answers or I will kill everyone.” He told them that he wasn’t leaving the house with “Jaya” and he would kill her or himself, according to court documents. At this point, “Jaya” was able to convince Imdad to allow “Navin” to go upstairs. The three sat in on the floor in the basement and attempted to talk things through. “Sai” and “Jaya” attempted to calm Imdad down as he sat and fidgeted with the gun, pulling it from the backpack he brought to the house. As time passed, Imdad became more agitated, and he handed a phone to “Sai” and demanded he call “Jaya’s” brother “Aarav” and tell him to come home.
When “Aarav” arrived at the house, he too was called to the basement. He became afraid the moment he saw Imdad, knowing his history with guns. “Aarav” attempted to lure Imdad away from “Jaya” to speak upstairs. However, Imdad said he wasn’t going anywhere without “Jaya” and “would kill everyone if anyone called the police.” Imdad stated, “If cops come there will be four dead bodies lying in here.” He told “Jaya” that “I have been planning this day from the time I got out of the hospital.”
At some point, Imdad decided that he wanted to move the group upstairs to the living room and marched the family upstairs. He forced “Jaya” to sit next to him on one couch and “Sai” and “Aarav” to sit on the other living room couch. Imdad again said that if the police arrived he would shoot everyone in the house and shoot at police. However, he had placed the gun back in the backpack.
As the family members kept Imdad talking and thinking, he lost track of the phone he had given “Sai” to call “Aarav.”
“Sai” managed called his wife “Krish” and somehow was able to keep the line open which allowed her to hear and understand what was happening. At about 9:15 pm, — five hours after Imdad first took “Navin” hostage, “Krish” was called the police and alerted them to what was happening inside the townhouse.
As police arrived, Imdad heard them. He grabbed the backpack with the gun and took a positon two-steps up on a landing where could look out a window to see marked cop cars pulling up. He threatened to shoot everyone, again.
Corporal Santos, along with Officers Cruz and Smith arrived to find the door of the townhouse locked, but could hear a subject yelling inside the residence.
“Aarav” charged at Imdad and grabbed the backpack containing the gun and a struggle ensued. “Sai” joined to help “Aarav” who at this point had wrested the backpack away from Imdad and was opening the front door to flee, as police were preparing to enter the house.
Imdad grabbed “Jaya” in a choke hold and dragged her into the kitchen. He took a black folding knife from his pocket and held it at her neck, according to the police report. The two struggled in the kitchen and eventually ended up on the floor. “Sai” ran over and attempted to pull Imdad off “Jaya.” Officers were able to wrestle the weapon away from Imdad, arrest him, and free the victim and her family.
As officers inspected the backpack, they located materials which indicate that Imdad had planned for an extended hostage situation and did not expect to survive the encounter. Police found a suicide intention note, a black replica handgun, a fixed blade knife, duct tape, five pairs of handcuffs, para-cord, and bottles containing an unknown substance. The black handgun, which turned out to be a realistic looking BB gun. However, according to the charging documents, “All persons interviewed believed the black handgun was real and that Imdad was going to kill them, shoot at police, and drink poison to commit suicide.” The substance in the bottles was removed and analyzed.
The note was titled “FOR POLICE” in all capital letters. The note read, “Please don’t waste your time looking for me. I am not on the run, and I am not going to run. I have taken a poison that will take 72-96 hours to kill me. My body will turn up in a few days in Sugarloaf Mountains. If I do not die in three days or so I will come and turn myself in. Please do not harass my family too much as they have no idea what I have done and they were not involved in any way. I acted alone. I took my mom’s car but I always use her car she did not know what I am up to. In this packet is a flash drive that explains what I did and why I did it. Please one copy to news channel if necessary.”
Montgomery County Police said in a statement, “Without the assistance of the family members and the immediate action by the responding officers, the outcomes achieved during this incident could have been very different.”
At a bond hearing on April 17, Imdad was held without bail. He is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in Rockville on May 10.
Top: Hero cops. Officer Andre Smith, Corporal Sean Santos, and Officer Elvis Cruz were the responding officers to a hostage situation in Germantown. Their quick thinking and bravery saved the life of a women who was being held with a knife to her throat and her entire family.
Next: The suspect, Zain U. Imdad, violated a Protection Order to break into the house and hold family members hostage for five hours. He planned to kill everyone in the house and commit suicide.
Next: Equipment found in Imdad’s backpack, a suicide note, a black replica handgun, a fixed blade knife, duct tape, five pairs of handcuffs, para-cord, and bottles containing an unknown substance. Also pictured is the black folding knife that he held against the throat of one victim.
Photos by Germantown Pulse