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Maryland shoots suspect charged with murdering co-workers

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A man has been charged with the murder of three co-workers at a machine shop in Maryland.

The alleged shooter, Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, of Hedgesville, West Virginia, was treated in hospital following a shootout with police and is currently being held at the Washington County Detention Center.

Authorities say Esquivel arrived Thursday morning for his normal shift at Columbia Machine in the small rural community of Smithsburg in western Maryland.

He reportedly worked until he left the building to retrieve a weapon, went back inside, and shot employees in the area of ​​a break room.

Police responded to a 911 call around 2:30 p.m.

It is not known what the motive for the attack was.

Tactical police are working at the scene of the shooting (Steve Ruark/AP)

The police who arrived first on the scene found an injured person outside the establishment. As more police arrived, three bodies were found inside.

Esquivel, who is also charged with attempted murder and other offences, reportedly left the scene in a car but was soon met by Maryland State Police.

A Maryland State Trooper who was injured in a shootout with the suspect was treated in hospital and discharged Thursday evening.

The 25-year veteran of the Maryland State Police was shot when police say Esquivel fired multiple shots at soldiers. At least one soldier returned fire, striking the suspect, state police said.

A search warrant was executed at the suspect’s residence in West Virginia and additional firearms were located, the sheriff’s office said.

Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore identified those killed in the shooting as Mark Alan Frey, 50, of Hagerstown, Maryland; Charles Edward Minnick Jr, 31, of Smithsburg, Maryland; and Joshua Robert Wallace, 30, of Hagerstown.

Maryland filming scene
Officers remove evidence from one of the two cars involved in the shooting with police (Timothy Jacobsen/AP)

Nelson Michael, the father of Brandon Michael, 42, who was injured in the machine shop shooting, said his son was still hospitalized on Friday but was unaware of his condition.

“He survives,” he says. “I’m glad he’s alive, but it’s going to get on his nerves. I know that.”

Mr Michael said he did not know why the shooter shot the victims.

He added: “I’m just glad my son is alive and I feel so bad for other people’s families.”

Authorities said the investigation was ongoing.

Mr Mullendore said the suspect used a semi-automatic handgun, which was recovered after the shooting.

Smithsburg, a community of nearly 3,000 people, is just west of the Camp David presidential retreat and about 75 miles northwest of Baltimore.