Man commits murder-suicide amid custody battle over 12-year-old son

Racquetball club is hit by murder-suicide as man, 64, shoots dead his estranged wife and then himself over custody battle for their 12 year-old son

  • Dimitre Dimitrov allegedly shot his estranged wife, MaryAnn Dimitrov, outside the Holly Tree Racquet Club in North Carolina on Tuesday afternoon
  • Police say he then turned the gun on himself, killing them both
  • The shooting came the same day the court approved an extension Dimitre had filed in the couple’s custody battle over their 12-year-old son
  • The Dimitrovs had separated in September and were reportedly undergoing a bitter divorce
  • Court records also indicated a history of domestic violence disputes in which the couple alleged physical and verbal abuse against one another 

Police are investigating after Dimitre Dimitrov allegedly shot dead his estranged wife MaryAnn Dimitrov (pictured) Tuesday before he then killed himself

Police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide of married couple that took place a North Carolina racquetball cub in an area where children were present.

Dimitre Dimitrov, 64, shot his estranged wife MaryAnn Dimitrov outside the Holly Tree Racquet Club on Tuesday, WECT reported.

The shooting came the same day the the court’s approved an extension filed by Dimitre in the couple’s custody battle over their 12-year-old son. 

The Dimitrovs had separated in September and were reportedly undergoing a bitter divorce. Court records also indicated a history of domestic violence disputes in which they alleged physical and verbal abuse against one another.

Wilmington police officers responded to the club on Tuesday afternoon to find MaryAnn suffering from a gunshot wound. Officials administered CPR but despite their efforts, she died on the scene.

Dimitre, who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.

Wilmington police officers responded to the club on Tuesday afternoon to find MaryAnn suffering from a gunshot wound. Officials administered CPR but despite their efforts, she died on the scene

Holly Tree Racquet Club (pictured) issued a statement confirming the incident, while also reiterating the Dimitrovs were not members of the club

Police said no children were physically injured during the incident despite being present at the scene.

It is unclear if the couple’s son was among those present. 

The racquetball club issued a statement to the news outlet confirming the incident, while also reiterating it was not related to the club – which the Dimitrovs were not members of. 

‘The tragic event that occurred last night at Holly Tree racquet club was the result of a domestic violence dispute between a husband and his wife,’ the club said. 

‘The husband shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself. The victims were not members of our tennis facility. Our thoughts and prayers are with the surviving family.’

Police referred to the shooting as an ‘isolated incident’ and said their detectives are continuing to investigate. 

The Dimitrovs had separated in September and were reportedly undergoing a bitter divorce. Court records also indicated a history of domestic violence disputes in which they alleged physical and verbal abuse against one another (Pictured: MaryAnn on her wedding day)

The Dimitrovs deaths come as the city of Wilmington reported an eight percent increase in domestic violence in 2021 compared to 2020. Police believe more incidents are likely as the holidays near.

Karmen Smith, the executive director of Hope Harbor Home – a nearby domestic violence shelter – argued that most murder-suicides occur after a long history of domestic violence.

‘He didn’t just wake up one day and decide, well today’s the day,’ she told WWAY-TV when asked about the Dimitrovs.

She also noted that murder-suicides often occur when an abuser loses power over their partner and feels suicidal. 

‘In that mindset of an abuser, they very well might decide I want this person, and if I can’t have them, I’m going to kill myself and take them down with me,’ she explained.  

She also urged victims to seek help and encouraged their loved ones to watch for warning signs or threats. 

‘Listen to them when they say, they said they were going to kill me,’ she said. ‘They said they are suicidal.’ 

According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, more than 70 percent of murder-suicides involve an intimate partner.  

If you or a loved one have been affected by domestic abuse, call the national hotline on 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522. 

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