Md. workplace gunman rammed troopers' car, shot through windshield

Sgt. Phillip Martin was shot and wounded after a gunman went on a rampage, killing three coworkers last week


By Clara Niel
The Frederick News-Post, Md.

SMITHSBURG, Md. — A man accused of shooting four co-workers at a Smithsburg-area business on Thursday shot at police through his windshield, police said Monday.

Three employees were killed and one was injured, police said. A Maryland state trooper was also shot and wounded.

Law enforcement officials gather outside the entrance to Columbia Machine Inc on Thursday, June 9, 2022 near Smithsburg, Md., after an employee opened fire, killing three coworkers and wounding a state trooper.
Law enforcement officials gather outside the entrance to Columbia Machine Inc on Thursday, June 9, 2022 near Smithsburg, Md., after an employee opened fire, killing three coworkers and wounding a state trooper. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)

Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, opened fire on his co-workers Thursday afternoon at Columbia Machine Inc. on Bikle Road, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

He had retrieved a semiautomatic handgun from his vehicle and re-entered the building, shooting in the area of the break room.

Esquivel — who is from Hedgesville, West Virginia — fled the scene afterward in his Mitsubishi Eclipse, traveling south on Md. 66, a release from the Maryland State Police said.

Police on Monday released the name of a state trooper who was shot and wounded, then treated at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown and released.

Detective Sgt. Phillip Martin, who was shot, is a 25-year veteran, according to police.

Martin, Lt. Vincent Upole and Master Trooper David Thompson were traveling north on Md. 66 in separate vehicles when they saw Esquivel, who was driving in the opposite direction, about 15 minutes after the shooting, police said.

The troopers attempted to block the road with their vehicles in the area of Mapleville and Mount Aetna roads, the release said. Esquivel accelerated and crashed into one of the troopers' vehicles.

The release said Esquivel fired at the troopers through his windshield and at least one trooper shot back at him. Martin and Esquivel were both shot and wounded.

The release said responding troopers provided medical treatment to Esquivel at the scene. Both he and Martin were taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment. Martin was treated for his injuries and released the same day, the release said.

Esquivel was held in custody at Meritus for medical treatment until at least Friday evening. He is being held at the Washington County Detention Center without bail, the release said.

He has been charged with multiple murder counts, as well as various counts of first- and second-degree assault, first- and second-degree attempted murder, reckless endangerment, having a handgun in a vehicle, having a loaded handgun in a vehicle and using a firearm during a violent crime.

The troopers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative duty while the shooting is investigated, the release said.

The three people who were shot and killed were identified as Mark Alan Frey, 50, of Hagerstown; Joshua Robert Wallace, 30, of Hagerstown; and Charles Edward Minnick Jr., 31, of Smithsburg.

The man who was shot and critically injured was identified as Brandon Chase Michael, 42. Police had not provided an update on his condition as of Monday. Sgt. Carly Hose of the Washington County Sheriff's Office said police are not releasing his hometown.

(c)2022 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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