West Virginia man charged Friday in Smithsburg with workplace mass shooting

Authorities believe a Hedgesville, W.Va., area resident who worked at Columbia Machine near Smithsburg took a break from his shift Thursday to retrieve a weapon from his car and then returned to the building and began shooting at his colleagues.

Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, was charged Friday night with three counts of first- and second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of three Washington County residents, according to a news release sent Friday night by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Washington County.

Esquivel has also been charged with attempted first degree murder and attempted second degree murder in the murder of fellow member Brandon Chase Michael, 42, according to Sgt. Carly Hose, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

A Maryland State Police trooper was shot in a shootout after Esquivel fled the Smithsburg-area business. The shooting occurred near the Mapleville and Mount Aetna roads roundabout, about 6.5 miles southwest of the first shooting site at 12921 Bikle Road.

According to Washington County District Court online records, Esquivel was also charged by the county state’s attorney’s office through a complaint against state police.

These charges include two counts of attempted first degree murder and attempted second degree murder. Other charges include two counts of first and second degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony/violent crime.

In both cases, the charges laid by the Sheriff’s Office and the State Police, arrest warrants were issued Thursday and served Friday, according to online court records.

According to the sheriff’s office, the Columbia Machine workers killed Thursday were:

• Mark Alan Frey, 50, of Hagerstown

• Charles “CJ” Edward Minnick Jr., 31, of Smithsburg

• Joshua Robert Wallace, 30, of Hagerstown

State police had not released the trooper’s name Friday night, but the trooper was released Thursday night from Meritus Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office.

The soldier is a 25-year veteran of the force, assigned to the Western Region Criminal Law Enforcement Division, according to state police.

After:Smithsburg scenes after mass shooting that killed 3 and injured 2 others

What we know about Thursday’s shooting in the Smithsburg area

As of Friday evening, police had not announced the motive for the shooting and the investigation was continuing.

With the assistance of the Berkeley County (W.Va.) Sheriff’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, authorities searched Esquivel’s Virginia residence- Occidentale, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.

Additional firearms were found, but no details were provided.

Esquivel was taken to Meritus Medical Center on Thursday, but as of Friday night was being held without bail at the Washington County Detention Center, according to the sheriff’s office.

Investigation so far has revealed the suspect reported to work Thursday for his normal shift and worked all day, according to the sheriff’s office.

At some point before 2:30 p.m., he “exited the building, retrieved a weapon from his vehicle, and returned to the business. The suspect drove to the break room area and began shooting at the employees,” according to the sheriff’s office. .

The scene at Columbia Machine, located just north of Smithsburg, the day after a gunman opened fire on the Washington County manufacturing plant, killing three people and injuring two others.

Esquivel then drove off in his car, a bronze Mitsubishi Eclipse, before the police arrived.

Sheriff’s deputies “quickly put out a show for a vehicle and a suspect and a sense of direction,” said Maryland State Police Lt. Col. Bill Dofflemyer.

Police from multiple agencies are working at the scene of an incident at Mapleville Road and Mount Aetna Road south of Smithsburg.

Three State Troopers were traveling north on Mapleville Road (Md. 66) toward the Smithsburg area scene when they encountered a vehicle matching this description.

“When the soldiers went to stop the vehicle, the suspect immediately began firing multiple shots at the soldiers,” Dofflemyer said. “The soldiers returned fire, beating the suspect.”

Smithsburg police were the first to arrive at the scene on Bikle Road, according to Sheriff Doug Mullendore. They “located an injured subject outside the company in a field,” he said.

That injured person was Michael, who was taken to Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown. His condition and the nature of his injuries were not known Friday evening.

After:Smithsburg mass shooting victims identified: Here’s what we know

Mapleville Road was closed for hours as authorities investigated the scene just south of the roundabout. Three vehicles – a Ford SUV, a Chevrolet sedan and a Mitsubishi Eclipse – were eventually transported.

Officers from multiple agencies, including the Smithsburg Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and explosives, were at the scene.

Bikle Manufacturing was purchased by Vancouver-based Columbia Machine Inc. in 2019. It is a large board mold maker and repair service provider, according to its website.

Maria D. Ervin