US shooter 'worked shift before rampage'

·2-min read

A West Virginia man accused of fatally shooting three co-workers at a western Maryland machine shop arrived for his normal shift and worked before he left the building to retrieve a weapon, went back inside and fired on his colleagues in a breakroom.

The man, who has not been publicly identified, remained under police guard at a hospital on Friday, a day after the shooting.

Authorities, who have yet to release a motive, said the man's identity will not be made public until he is formally charged.

Officers from the Smithsburg Police Department arrived on the scene at Columbia Machine and found an injured victim outside the building.

Three additional victims - all of whom had been shot dead - were located inside, the Washington County sheriff's office said.

The suspect left the scene in a car and was quickly intercepted by Maryland State Police.

A state trooper injured in a shootout with the suspect was treated and released late on Thursday.

The 25-year veteran of the Maryland State Police was shot when the suspect fired multiple rounds at troopers, authorities said. At least one trooper returned fire, striking the suspect.

A search warrant was executed at the suspect's West Virginia residence, 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; Charles Edward Minnick Jr, 31; and Joshua Robert Wallace, 30.

The shooting suspect was identified as a 23-year-old man who lives in West Virginia.

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

Smithsburg, a community of nearly 3000 people, is just west of the Camp David presidential retreat and about 120 kilometres northwest of the state's most-populous city Baltimore.

The manufacturing facility was in a sparsely populated area northeast of the town's centre with a church, several businesses and farmland nearby.

Columbia Machine manufactures equipment for concrete products.

Its CEO Rick Goode issued a statement saying, "Our highest priority during this tragic event is the safety and wellbeing of our employees and their families".

Speaking late on Friday morning, local man Dennis Stouffer said the reason for the shooting remained "a big mystery" to people in the community.

"We're all in shock and disbelief, and that's an understatement," he said.

As mass shootings continue to fuel debate about gun control around the nation, Stouffer said the Maryland deaths did not change his mind about Second Amendment rights.

"It's most unfortunate, but you always have to be prepared," Stouffer said.

"Whether it's church property or your own property or wherever you go, you're not going to prevent criminals from having guns by passing gun-control laws."

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