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Victims of deadly Smithsburg manufacturing plant shooting identified

Three people were killed and a fourth was critically injured when a gunman opened fire inside Columbia Machine Inc. A trooper and the suspect were also shot.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — The man deputies say is responsible for a shooting that left three people dead and a fourth person critically injured, worked at the manufacturing facility where the shooting occurred in Washington County, Maryland, Thursday afternoon.

The shooting happened around 2:30 p.m. at the Columbia Machine Inc. on Bikle Road in Smithsburg, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office. 

The three men killed have been identified as 50-year-old Mark Alan Fry, 31-year-old Charles Edward Minnick Jr. and 30-year-old Joshua Robert Wallace. The fourth victim, 42-year-old Brandon Chase Michael, was critically injured in the shooting and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

In a press conference Thursday night, the sheriff's office gave more insight into what happened at the manufacturing facility and the moments afterward.

"At this time I can confirm all the victims and the suspect were current employees of the Columbia Machine Inc.," said Sheriff Doug Mullendore.

Mullendore added that the suspect, identified as a 23-year-old Joe Louis Esquivel, used a semi-automatic handgun in the shooting. Officials have not released the suspect's identity as he has not been charged yet. 

After the shooting, the suspect reportedly fled the area but was quickly found by Maryland State Police near Maplesville Road and Mount Aetna Road. A state trooper and the suspect shot at each other; both were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.  

A spokesperson for the sheriff's office says there is no ongoing threat to the public. 

"I would like to offer my thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families at this time," Smithsburg Mayor Donnie Souders said. "Also wishing a full and speedy recovery of the State Trooper who was injured while performing his duties as a sworn officer to protect and to serve our community." 

Congressman David Trone (D-MD) tweeted following the shooting asking people in the area to stay away while officials investigate. The FBI and ATF were on scene investigating alongside Maryland State Police. 

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) also released a statement following the deadly shooting. 

“I’m devastated by the lives taken today in Smithsburg and for the pain and suffering their loved ones are experiencing. Today’s horrific shooting comes as our state and nation have witnessed tragedy after tragedy, and it’s got to stop," the statement reads. "We must act to address the mass shootings and the daily toll of gun violence on our communities."

Hollen said his thoughts are with the employees of Columbia Machine, the Smithsburg community and everyone grieving. He added that he is grateful for the first responders who acted Thursday, including the state trooper who was injured. 

Smithsburg is a community of nearly 3,000 people, located about 75 miles northwest of Baltimore not far from the state line with Pennsylvania.

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