Maryland murder suspect charged, name released

A West Virginia man has been charged with the murder of three employees at a Maryland machine shop along with attempted murder and other charges, authorities said late Friday.

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

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

Authorities say Esquivel arrived Thursday morning for his normal shift at Columbia Machine Inc. in the small rural community of Smithsburg in western Maryland. He allegedly worked until he left the building to get a gun, went back inside and shot employees in a break room area. Police responded to an emergency call around 2:30 p.m

The sheriff’s office has not released a motive.

Smithsburg Police, who got to the scene first, found an injured person outside the store. When deputies arrived, three other victims, all deceased, were inside, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.


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

The 25-year-old Maryland State Police veteran was shot dead when police said Esquivel fired multiple rounds at soldiers. At least one soldier returned fire and struck the suspect, state police said.

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

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

Reached by phone on Friday, Nelson Michael, the father of Brandon Michael, 42, who was wounded in the machine shop shooting, said his son was still hospitalized but said he did not know more about his condition.


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

Nelson Michael said he didn’t know why the gunman fired at the victims.

“I say no more. I’m just glad my son is alive and I’m so sorry for each other’s families,” he said.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing.

Mullendore said the suspect was using a semi-automatic pistol that was recovered after the shooting.

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.

Based in Vancouver, Wash., Columbia Machine manufactures equipment for concrete products, and its Smithsburg facility builds molds and works on parts and repairs for other equipment. The company’s CEO, Rick Goode, issued a statement calling the deaths of three employees and the wounding of a fourth tragic.


“Our top 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 when he drove by.

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

Stouffer said in a telephone interview that Frey once made meat hooks for a deer meat processing plant he used to run in Smithsburg.

“He wasn’t making any noise or anything. He just went about his business,” Stouffer said.

Late Friday morning, Stouffer said the reason for the shooting remains “a great mystery” to people in the community.

“We’re all shocked and in disbelief, and that’s an understatement,” Stouffer said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Maryland murder suspect charged, name released

Sarah Y. Kim

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