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Suspect in Maryland factory shooting that killed three charged with murder

(SMITHSBURG, Md.) — A 23-year-old man faces over two dozen charges after allegedly opening fire at his workplace, killing three people and later wounding an officer in an ensuing shootout, authorities announced.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Friday it has charged Joe Louis Esquivel, of Hedgesville, West Virginia, in connection with Thursday’s shooting at Columbia Machine in Smithsburg, Maryland.

Esquivel faces 25 charges, including three counts each of first-degree murder and second-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

The suspect was working his normal shift at the factory before allegedly retrieving a semi-automatic handgun from his car and firing upon his coworkers in the breakroom at around 2:30 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

He then allegedly fled the scene in his bronze Mitsubishi Eclipse and was apprehended by Maryland State Police in nearby Hagerstown based on a description of the suspect, the sheriff’s office said.

The suspect and state troopers exchanged gunfire and the suspect and a trooper were wounded, the sheriff’s office said. Both were transported for medical treatment with non-life-threatening injuries.

Esquivel was arrested Friday and is being held by the Washington County Detention Center without bond. A bail hearing has been scheduled for Monday. Online court records do not include any attorney information for him.

Authorities have not commented on a possible motive in the attack.

When police arrived at Columbia Machine they found a victim critically injured outside the business. Responding sheriff’s deputies then found three additional victims dead inside.

The deceased victims were identified by the sheriff’s office as Mark Alan Frey, 50; Charles Edward Minnick Jr., 31; and Joshua Robert Wallace, 30. The fourth victim who was injured was identified as 42-year-old Brandon Chase Michael.

Maryland State Police said the injured trooper is a 25-year veteran of the department assigned to the Criminal Enforcement Division Western Region, and that he’s not being identified at this time.

Local authorities and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home and found additional firearms, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

Columbia Machine manufactures equipment for concrete products. Smithsburg is about 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

The company said it is working closely with local authorities amid the ongoing investigation.

“Our highest priority during this tragic event is the safety and well-being of our employees and their families,” Columbia Machine CEO Rick Goode said in a statement.

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