Credit: Annabelle Gordon

A 23-year-old Layhill man used a ghost gun in a triple shooting on Labor Day that killed his housemate—a 65-year-old woman—and injured her husband and his own mother, according to officials. 

Manuel Alejandro Ayala has been arrested in the death of Rosa Maria Benitez-Ozuna, 65, who lived in the same Punch Street house as Ayala, according to Montgomery County Police and charging documents from the county State’s Attorney’s Office.  

Ayala’s mother had sought a peace order against him in May after he allegedly engaged in violent and erratic behavior, according to the charging documents. They had quarreled Monday evening about him being kicked out, documents show. 

Ayala was charged this week with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and felony use of a firearm in a violent crime.  

Around 7:54 p.m. Monday, police officers and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service personnel responded to the 14200 block of Punch Street in the Layhill area of Silver Spring for a report of a shooting, police said. 

When they arrived, officers found a man in the street suffering from an apparent gunshot wound, and he was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. When officers entered the nearby home, where Ayala and the man lived, they found the man’s wife, Benitez-Ozuna, had been fatally shot.  


They also located Ayala’s mother suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, and she was transported to an area hospital in serious condition, police said. 

Officers, who knew Ayala from previous calls to the house, found him outside, carrying a 9mm handgun in one pocket and an empty magazine in the other, according to charging documents. He told police the weapon was a ghost gun that he had ordered online about a year ago, documents show. He was taken into custody without incident, police said.  

At the hospital, Ayala’s mother said that she and Benitez-Ozuna were seated in the kitchen when Ayala came in, and she and her son argued about him needing to move out because of his misbehavior. She told police that Ayala then shot her and Benitez-Ozuna, according to the charging documents.  


An investigating officer found a peace order that the mother had sought in May, which alleged that Ayala “has assaulted people in the residence, punches holes in the walls and ‘destroys’ everything in the house,” according to the charging documents. 

At the hospital, the man who had been shot told police that he had been in the basement when he heard gunshots, then came upstairs to find that his wife and Ayala’s mother had been shot. He said Ayala tried to shoot him, he ran outside, they wrestled, and he was shot in the leg, according to the charging documents. He told police Ayala went back into the house and yelled, “Come back in the house so I can kill you like I already killed your wife,” according to the documents. 

For his part, Ayala told investigators he had been upstairs in his room when he heard gunshots and came downstairs to find that his mother and the female housemate had been shot, according to the charging documents. He denied shooting anyone. 


No attorney information is listed for Ayala in Maryland’s judicial database.