SMITHSBURG, Md. (AP) — An employee opened fire at a manufacturing facility in rural western Maryland on Thursday, killing three employees before the suspect and a state police officer were wounded in a shooting, authorities said.
Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore said three victims at Columbia Machine Inc. in Smithsburg were found dead and a fourth victim was seriously injured. The sheriff said at a news conference that the victims and suspects were all employees of the facility.
The suspect fled in a vehicle before authorities arrived at the scene and was tracked down by Maryland State Police, Mullendore said. The suspect and a police officer were injured in an exchange of gunfire, according to the sheriff.
Mullendore said the suspect was a 42-year-old man but declined to reveal his name while criminal charges were being prepared.
The sheriff identified those killed in the shooting as Mark Alan Frey, 50; Charles Edward Minnick Jr., 31; and Joshua Robert Wallace, 30. Mullendore said the wounded victim was Brandon Chase Michael, 42
Lt. Col. Bill Dofflemyer of the Maryland State Police said that three officers came upon the suspect’s vehicle and that he opened fire when officers were conducting a traffic stop. The soldiers returned fire, injuring the suspect. Dofflemyer said the wounded soldier is doing well and the suspect will be treated Thursday night.
The authorities did not want to give any information about the motive.
“We’re still working with the sheriff’s office as to what happened and why it kept escalating,” Dofflemyer told reporters.
Mullendore said the suspect was using a semi-automatic pistol that was recovered after the shooting. He declined to specify the caliber or model.
Family members of workers at the manufacturer gathered at a fire station in downtown Smithsburg Thursday night awaiting information about their loved ones. They declined to speak to a reporter.
Numerous police officers remained at the scene for several hours after the shooting. Police had closed the road past the Columbia Machine Inc. facility, and yellow caution tape was blowing in the wind in front of the store.
Messages left with the company asking for a comment were not immediately returned.
Smithsburg, a community of nearly 3,000 people, is west of the Camp David Presidential Palace and about 120 kilometers northwest of Baltimore. The manufacturing facility was in a sparsely populated area northeast of downtown with a church, several shops, and farmland nearby.
“Today’s horrific shooting comes as our state and nation have endured tragedy after tragedy and it must stop,” he said in a statement. “We must act to address the mass shootings and the daily number of gun violence in our communities.”
David Creamer, 69, is a member of the Smithburg Volunteer Fire Department and has lived in the town since 1988. He saw alarms going off just before 3 p.m. related to the shooting
Creamer said the last fatal Smithsburg shooting he can remember was about a decade ago.
“Those things don’t happen here,” Creamer said. “Everyone pretty much knows everyone. It’s a family atmosphere. We look out for each other.”
Creamer chatted with neighbors at a little league game Thursday night. He was wearing a T-shirt advertising a gun rights organization.
Shooting “gives me an even stronger feeling. I just feel like I should be able to protect my family and my neighbors. In such a community, everyone is your neighbor,” he said.
Funeral worker Ashley Vigrass, 29, lives less than a kilometer from where the shooting took place. She was home with her two children when her fiancé called to tell her about the shooting, urging her to keep the children at home.
“The helicopters were outside,” she said.
When asked if she was devastated by the shooting, Vigrass said, “I feel like we’re coming from a desensitized time.”
“You’re feeling something, but it’s the same as yesterday,” she added while watching the Little League game. “It’s unfortunate but you just have to make sure the kids are safe to play baseball and move on.”
(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)
https://whdh.com/news/authorities-3-dead-trooper-wounded-in-maryland-shooting-2/ Authorities: 3 dead, soldier wounded in Maryland shooting – Boston News, Weather, Sports