Authorities: Three dead, one soldier injured in MD shootout
SMITHSBURG, Md. (AP) – A man opened fire on a manufacturing business in rural western Maryland on Thursday, killing three people before the suspect and a state trooper were injured in a shootout, reports said. authorities.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that three victims were found dead at Columbia Machine Inc. in Smithsburg and a fourth victim was seriously injured. The suspect then fled in a vehicle and was found by Maryland State Police, according to the news release.
The suspect and a soldier were injured in an exchange of gunfire, the sheriff’s office said. Both were being treated for their injuries.
Governor Larry Hogan, who was briefed on the shooting, said the man opened fire on soldiers before at least one officer returned fire and injured the suspect.
“The suspect shot and shot the state trooper in the shoulder, who then returned fire and shot him,” Hogan told reporters.
Authorities did not have information about whether the suspect and victims were employees of the company where the shooting took place, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Carly Hose said at a press conference.
Family members of the manufacturer’s workers were gathering Thursday night at a downtown Smithsburg fire station, awaiting information about their loved ones. They refused to speak to a reporter.
Several hours after the shooting, many law enforcement officers remained at the scene. Police had closed the road past the Columbia Machine Inc. facility and yellow tape blew in the wind outside the business.
Messages left asking the company for comment were not immediately returned.
Smithsburg, a community of nearly 3,000 people, lies just west of the Camp David presidential retreat and about 120 kilometers northwest of Baltimore. The manufacturing plant was in a sparsely populated area northeast of the city center with a church, several businesses, and farmland nearby.
“Today’s horrific shooting comes as our state and our nation have witnessed tragedy after tragedy, and that must end,” he said in a statement. “We must act to address mass shootings and the daily toll of gun violence in our communities.”
David Creamer, 69, is a member of the Smithburg Volunteer Fire Department and has lived in town since 1988. He saw alerts related to the shooting going off shortly before 3 p.m.
Creamer said the last fatal shooting he remembers in Smithsburg was about ten years ago.
“That stuff doesn’t happen here,” Creamer said. “Everyone knows pretty much everyone. It’s a family atmosphere. We take care of each other.”
Creamer was chatting with neighbors at a Little League game Thursday night. He was wearing a T-shirt promoting a gun rights organization.
Filming “makes me even stronger. I just feel like I should be able to protect my family and neighbors. In a community like this, everyone is your neighbor,” he said.
Ashley Vigrass, 29, a funeral home worker, lives less than a mile from where the shooting happened. She was home with her two children when her fiancee called to tell her about the shooting and urged her to keep the children inside the house.
“The helicopters were out,” she said.
Asked if she was shaken by the shooting, Vigrass said, “I feel like we’re coming from a desensitized time.”
“You feel something, but it’s the same thing you felt yesterday,” she added while watching the Little League game. “It’s unfortunate, but you just have to make sure the kids are safe to play baseball and keep going.”
___ Sarah Brumfield, Associated Press writer in Silver Spring, Maryland, contributed to this report.