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Police & Fire

Suspect Charged For Maryland Mass Workplace Shooting That Killed Three

Joe Louis Esquivel Joe Louis Esquivel
Joe Louis Esquivel Photo Credit: Washington County Sheriff's Office
Columbia Machine, Inc. in Smithsburg. Columbia Machine, Inc. in Smithsburg.
Columbia Machine, Inc. in Smithsburg. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

West Virginia resident Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, is facing a host of charges in connection to the fatal mass shooting at Columbia Machine, Inc. in Maryland.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office announced that the Hedgesville resident is facing multiple murder, assault, and other charges after the shooting in his workplace that left three dead and one critically injured.

Specifically, Esquivel was charged with:

  • Three counts of first-degree murder;
  • Three counts of second-degree murder;
  • Five counts of first-degree assault;
  • Five counts of second-degree assault;
  • First-degree attempted murder;
  • Second-degree attempted murder;
  • Two counts of first-degree assault;
  • Two counts of reckless endangerment;
  • Handgun in a vehicle;
  • Loaded handgun in a vehicle;
  • Handgun on a person;
  • Loaded handgun on a person;
  • Use of a firearm in a felony violent crime.

Deputies responded to Columbia Machine Inc. on Bikle Road at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 9 in Smithsburg, where they found four victims, three of whom were pronounced dead at the scene, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said. The fourth was initially listed in critical condition.

The investigation into the shooting determined that Esquivel arrived for his normal work shift at the manufacturing plant and worked throughout the day.

Before the 911 call, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said that Esquivel exited the building, retrieved a weapon from his vehicle, and reentered the building. He then proceeded to the area of the break room and began to fire upon employees.

Esquivel allegedly then left the scene in a bronze Mitsubishi Eclipse, which was quickly encountered by Maryland State Police in the area of Mapleville Road and Mount Aetna Road, at which point a shootout ensued.

Both Esquivel and troopers exchanged gunfire, authorities said, with a trooper suffering a gunshot wound to his shoulder. He was treated at an area hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and later released.

On Friday, June 10, investigators identified the victims, Joshua Wallace, 30, Mark Alan Frey, 50, and Charles Edward Minnick, Jr., 31, who were killed. Brandon Chase Michael, 42, remains hospitalized.

Esquivel is currently being held by the Washington County Detention Center on no bond.

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