Joe Louis Esquivel, Smithsburg Mass Shooting Suspect: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

joe louis esquivel

Sheriff Joe Louis Esquivel

Joe Louis Esquivel is a 23-year-old West Virginia man who was named as the suspect in the Smithsburg mass shooting in Maryland.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office announced in a news release on the evening of June 10, 2022, that it has charged Esquivel, 23, of Hedgesville, West Virginia, in connection with the June 9, 2022 shooting at Columbia Machine, Inc.

Esquivel worked at the company, and he shot and killed three co-workers, authorities say.

Esquivel has been charged with the following crimes: Three counts of murder in the 1st degree, three counts of murder in the 2nd degree, three counts of first-degree assault, three counts of assault in the second-degree, attempted first-degree and second-degree murder, two counts of assault in the first and second degree, two counts of reckless endangerment, handgun in vehicle, loaded handgun in vehicle, handgun on person, loaded handgun on person and firearm use – fel-viol crime.

The victims were named by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department as Mark Alan Frey, 50; Charles Edward Minnick Jr., 31; and Joshua Robert Wallace, 30. Brandon Chase Michael, 42, was wounded but survived.

The mass shooting occurred at Columbia Machine Inc. on June 9, 2022, as the nation was already reeling from mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Buffalo, New York. The company used to be called Bikle Manufacturing; it is a “big-board mold maker,” according to Columbian.com.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. The Sheriff’s Department Says Joe Esquivel Retrieved a Weapon From His Vehicle & Began to Fire on Employees in the Company Breakroom

On June 9, 2022, at approximately 2:30 p.m., the Washington County Emergency Communications Center “received a report of an active shooter at Columbia Machine Inc., 12912 Bikle Road, Smithsburg, MD.,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

“Officers from the Smithsburg Police Department arrived on the scene first and located an injured victim outside of the business. As deputies arrived on the scene, 3 additional victims, all of whom were deceased, were located inside the business.”

In a second release, the department said, “The investigation into the incident thus far has revealed that the suspect arrived for his normal work shift at Columbia Machine, Inc. and worked throughout the day. Prior to the 911 call at approximately 2:30 PM, the suspect exited the building, retrieved a weapon from his vehicle, and reentered the business. The suspect proceeded to the area of the breakroom and begin to fire upon employees.”


2. Video Captured a Barrage of Gunfire

A video captured a barrage of gunfire.

The suspect had fled but his vehicle was later found in the area of Mapleville Road and Mount Aetna Road.

“The suspect and the Troopers exchanged gunfire and the suspect and one Trooper were injured. Both survived and were transported for medical treatment. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office can confirm that all of the victims and the suspect were current employees of Columbia Machine, Inc.”


3. Esquivel, Who Went to High School in Hedgesville, West Virginia, Used a Semi-Automatic Weapon in the Shootings, Police Say

All of the victims were white males.

“The suspect remains in law enforcement custody at Meritus Medical Center and was identified as a 23-year-old Hispanic male who resides in West Virginia. His identity will not be released until charging documents are filed,” the sheriff’s department wrote.

“The weapon used at both scenes was a semi-automatic handgun. The exact caliber, make and model are also not being released at this time.”

People who knew the suspect in high school commented about him on Facebook. “I knew someone that said he was really quiet and stayed to himself really,” wrote one. “I had freshman class with him at Hedgesville,” wrote another.


4. The Motive Remains Unclear

The motive remains under investigation. The injured officer, whose name was not released, was treated and released at a local medical center.

According to NBC 4, Esquivel’s mother told the station that “the last she heard he was still in the hospital. She has not spoken to her since the shooting and has no idea what motivated him.”

The suspect has old ties to Texas, according to online records.

George L. Knight, a Hagerstown police officer, wrote on Facebook:

I woke up this morning and immediately began reflecting on yesterdays tragic day in Washington County/Smithsburg, Maryland. My involvement in the incident was minor compared to others of our law enforcement community. First I am sending prayers and condolences to the families that lost a loved one. To the injured I pray for a speedy recovery. The purpose of this post is to give a message to the citizens of the Town of Smithsburg and Washington County. In the face of most horrific several days in our county I have witnessed first hand the heroic efforts of our law enforcement community. These men and women have performed their jobs and responded with such heroics and expertise as well as bravery that I was compelled to bring it to your attention. I witnessed first hand every aspect of great police work and bravery that allowed a citizen victim to survive a shooting and two troopers who apprehended the suspect without anyone else losing their life. I witnessed the bravery of these troopers stop the suspect and exchanged gunfire with him stopping him from hurting anyone else, which certainly would have happened if he continued to flee. The trooper although wounded continued in the fight till others came to assist. Citizens of Washington County you are served by men and women of law enforcement who risk their lives everyday as yesterday showed. Be proud of the job they do and give them the support they deserve.


5. The Victims Were Mourned by Friends & Family

Frey’s Facebook page says that he had worked at Columbia Machine, Inc. since 2019 and went to Smithsburg Senior High School. He was married.

“RIP Mark Frey! You were such a good guy!” a friend wrote. Another friend wrote on that comment thread, “I’m in shock! Such a wonderful man. His wife Angie, I couldn’t imagine.”

Taylor Toms wrote on Facebook, “I’m so sorry to say that Joshua Wallace was one of the ones who was killed in today’s shooting.. my heart is completely shattered. I lost the love of my life today. I love you so much baby, I hate this. Our future is gone, you’re gone, I can’t believe your gone. God I love you so much.”

On Facebook, Wallace wrote that he worked at Columbia machine, Inc., studied at Hagerstown Community College, and lived in Clear Spring, Maryland.

Friends shared photos of him hunting and fishing. One wrote, “As hard as it is to inform everyone we lost a member today Joshua Wallace .. not just a great friend, but a wonderful Family member. You will be missed buddy, we had many camping, fishing trips and hunting trips planned, fly high brother, I know you’ll be hunting in heaven shoot us a monster while you’re up there I’ll see ya soon 🖤😓🙏🏼”

FacebookSmithburg victims

According to his Facebook page, Charles Edward Minnick Jr. was married. He was from Wolfsville, Maryland, and studied at Middleton High.

He went by the name CJ. “C J was one of the good ones,” a friend wrote on his mother’s Facebook page.

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