Police on Friday arrested a federal officer suspected in a two-day shooting rampage in the Washington suburbs that killed his wife and two apparent strangers and revived memories of the "Beltway sniper" attacks of 2002.

Three others were wounded in the three separate attacks.

Eulalio Sevilla Tordil, 62, a police officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service, was arrested in a doughnut shop near the site of the second of Friday's two shootings, police said.

He had been suspected of killing his wife and shooting a bystander on Thursday in Prince George's County, Maryland.

Agun1 Eulalio Sevilla Tordil, 62, is shown in this undated photo provided May, 6, 2016. Photo: Montgomery County Maryland Police Department/Handout via Reuters

When two more shootings broke out in neighboring Montgomery County on Friday, investigators turned their attention to Tordil, who had threatened to commit "suicide by cop," police said. A plainclothes officer spotted Tordil in a Dunkin' Donuts. Police kept him under watch as he walked in and out of stores, but waited until he returned to his car before arresting him, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger told a news conference.

"We did not want to have a shootout when he was taken into custody," Manger said.

Surrounded by officers with their weapons drawn, Tordil surrendered without a fight after about five minutes, police said.

Charges should be filed on Friday and Tordil will make a court appearance on Monday, Montgomery County prosecutor John McCarthy said.

The first of Friday's incidents began with a confrontation in a parking lot at Westfield Montgomery Mall in affluent Bethesda, Maryland, where two men and a woman were shot, police said.

One of the men died, the other was in critical condition, and the woman's life was not considered in danger, police said.

The second shooting took place about half an hour later, killing a woman at the Aspen Hill Shopping Center in Silver Spring, some 8 miles (13 km) away.

The victim of Thursday's shooting was Tordil's estranged wife, Gladys, a high school chemistry teacher who was shot as she went to pick up their two daughters from another school.

Tordil was on leave, having surrendered his gun and badge after his wife obtained a protective order to keep him away, an official with the Federal Protective Service said.

The three-week Beltway sniper ordeal in 2002 rattled Washington and its suburbs until John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 at the time, were captured. Malvo was sentenced to life and Muhammad, a Gulf War veteran, was executed in 2009.