Maryland shooting suspect identified, charged

Maryland shooting suspect identified, charged

Maryland shooting suspect identified, charged

A man from West Virginia was charged with: killing three co-workers in a machine shop in Maryland as well as attempted murder and other charges, authorities said late Friday.

The name of the alleged gunman, Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, of Hedgesville, West Virginia, was also released Friday by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Esquivel, who was hospitalized after a shootout with police, is currently being held by the Washington County Detention Center without bail.

photographing Maryland
This image has been released, but the Sheriff’s Office in Washington County, Maryland, shows Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, of Hedgesville, W.Va., charged with murdering three co-workers at a Maryland machine shop, as well as attempted murder and other charges, authorities said in late Friday, June 10, 2022.

/ AP

Authorities say Esquivel arrived Thursday morning for his regular shift at Columbia Machine Inc. in the small rural community of Smithsburg in western Maryland. He is said to have worked until he left the building to retrieve a weapon, went back inside and fired at employees near a cafeteria. Police responded to a 911 call at approximately 2:30 p.m.

The sheriff’s office has not released a motive.

Smithsburg Police who arrived first found an injured person outside the company. When officers arrived, three other victims, all dead, were inside, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

Esquivel left the scene in a car and was quickly met by the Maryland State Police. A Maryland police officer who was injured in a shootout with the suspect was treated and released on Thursday, authorities said.

The 25-year-old Maryland State Police veteran was shot and killed when police said Esquivel fired multiple shots at troopers. At least one trooper returned fire and struck the suspect, state police said.

A search warrant was issued at the suspect’s West Virginia home and additional firearms were found, the sheriff’s office said.

Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore identified the shooting victims as Mark Alan Frey, 50, of Hagerstown, Maryland; Charles Edward Minnick Jr., 31, of Smithsburg, Maryland; and Joshua Robert Wallace, 30, of Hagerstown.

photographing Maryland
Police are operating near where a man opened fire on a business, killing three people before the suspect and a police officer were injured in a gun battle, according to authorities in Smithsburg, Maryland, Thursday, June 9, 2022.

Steve Ruark / AP

Reached by phone Friday, Nelson Michael, the father of Brandon Michael, 42, who was injured in the machine shop shooting, said his son was still in hospital but he had no information about his condition.

“He survives,” he said. “I’m glad he’s still alive, but it’s getting on his nerves. I know that.’

Nelson Michael said he did not know why the gunman shot the victims.

“I’m not saying anything anymore. I’m just glad my son is still alive, and I feel so sorry for the families of the others,” he said.

Authorities said the investigation is still ongoing.

Mullendore said the suspect used a semi-automatic pistol, which was recovered after the shooting.

Smithsburg, a community of nearly 3,000 people, is located just west of the Camp David presidential retreat and about 75 miles (75 km) northwest of Baltimore. The factory was located in a sparsely populated area northeast of the city center with a church, several businesses and farmland nearby.

Based in Vancouver, Washington, Columbia Machine manufactures equipment for concrete products and the Smithsburg site builds molds and works on parts and repairs for other plants. The company’s CEO, Rick Goode, has called the death of three employees and the injury of a fourth tragic in a statement.

“Our highest priority during this tragic event is the safety and well-being of our employees and their families,” he said.

Dennis Stouffer lived about half a mile from Frey, one of the victims, and said he would see Frey at the mailbox if he drove by.

He described Frey as “a solid person” and “a good guy.”

Stouffer said in a phone interview that Frey once made meat hooks for a venison processing store he ran in Smithsburg.

“He wasn’t making any noise or anything. He was just doing his job,” Stouffer said.

Stouffer said late Friday morning that the reason for the shooting remained “a great mystery” to people in the community.

“We are all in shock and disbelief, and that is an understatement,” Stouffer said.