Three people were shot and killed Thursday at the Columbia Machine factory in Smithsburg, Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan has confirmed.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office was called to Bikle Road, Smithsburg, about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday over reports of a shooting at the property.
In a news conference around 5 p.m. Thursday, Governor Hogan said three people had died in the shooting.
At least two people, including the gunman, were injured, he said.
He said Maryland state officers responded to the shooting and chased and confronted the suspect about 5 miles (8 km) south of the factory.
“The suspect fired and shot the state troopers in the shoulder, and the state trooper returned fire and shot him back.”
“I don’t know the shooter’s status,” Mr. Hogan said.
Police response to the shooting
When the police arrived, they found three of the four victims. The fourth was in critical condition.
The suspect, who authorities said is a man, reportedly fled before their arrival. The description of the person was circulated to the police and the suspect was eventually found by the Maryland State Police. They confronted the gunman, who reportedly fired at them and started a gunfight.
Both the suspect and a police officer were injured in the shooting and were taken to hospital.
The injured officer was released from hospital on Friday. Officials said he made a good recovery.
Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were at the scene of the shooting.
“ATF Special Agents are responding to assist our partners in the Washington County Sheriff’s Office with a multi-victim shooting incident in Smithsburg, MD,” the ATF said in a tweet.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office initially said “several victims” were injured and the suspect “no longer posed a threat to the community.”
“This is a rapidly evolving incident and we will release information as we can.
“We are currently actively following the mass shooting in Smithsburg and our office is in contact with officials on the ground,” local Congressman David Trone tweeted just before 3 p.m.
“If you are in the area, please stay out of the area while the police respond.”
Maryland State Senator Ben Cardin said his thoughts were with the victims of the “terrible tragedy.”
“This can’t keep happening,” he tweeted.
All the victims were workers at Columbia Machine in Smithsburg. Police later learned that the gunman was also an employee of the factory.
The victims of the shooting have been identified as Mark Alan Frey, 50, Charles Edward Minnick, Jr., 31, and Joshua Robert Wallace, 30. Brandon Chase Michael, 42, was also injured in the shooting.
The alleged gunman was taken into custody and hospitalized after being injured in a shooting with Maryland State Troopers.
Smithsburg is located about 75 miles west of Baltimore and 115 miles north of Washington DC, near the state’s border with Pennsylvania.
According to its website, Columbia Smithsburg manufactures, repairs and services molds and offers “complete equipment lines to customers in more than 100 countries.”
Another tragic mass shooting in America
The shooting is another in a long list of mass shootings to rock the US. It comes on the heels of the school shooting in Uvalde, in which 19 students and two teachers from Robb Elementary School were killed by an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-15 rifle. Weeks earlier, 10 people – mostly people of color – were killed in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Less than two weeks ago, a man stormed a hospital near Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing three people, including a surgeon who had previously operated on him, two hospital workers and a patient. The gunman also shot himself.
Since Uvalde, police have made numerous arrests of people threatening shootings on social media.
In one case, a 10-year-old Florida boy threatened to blow up his school. In Berkeley, California, a teenager is said to try to recruit others to help him carry out a “mass shooting/bombing” at Berkeley High School. A Canadian teen was also arrested after he posted a threatening video on a social media site in which he brandished a gun and threatened to attack an LGBTQ event in West Palm Beach before Pride Month.