Rockville Barrack Commander Among Maryland State Police Troopers Who Apprehended Murder Suspect In Washington County Shootings

by Patrick Herron

Per Maryland State Police:
(SMITHSBURG, MD) – Maryland State Police have identified the troopers who helped apprehend the man charged with shooting five people, including three fatally and injuring a Maryland state trooper Thursday in Washington County.

The troopers helped apprehend Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, of Hedgesville, West Virginia. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder, five counts of first-degree assault, five counts of second-degree assault, three counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of having a handgun illegally in a vehicle, one count of having a loaded handgun in a vehicle, one count of illegal handgun possession and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held without bond in the care and custody of the Washington County Detention Center.

The injured trooper has been identified as Detective Sergeant Phillip Martin. Detective Sergeant Martin is assigned to the Criminal Enforcement Division Western Region. He was transported to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Maryland, where he was treated and released on Thursday for injuries sustained in the shooting.

Shortly after 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, Detective Sergeant Martin, along with Lieutenant Vincent Upole, the commander of the Rockville Barrack, and Master Trooper David Thompson, who is assigned to the Hagerstown Barrack, encountered Esquivel, whose charges include shooting four co-workers 15 minutes earlier at a facility in the 12000 block of Bikle Road in Smithsburg, Maryland.

According to a preliminary investigation, Esquivel was driving a burnt orange Mitsubishi Eclipse south on MD Route 66 at the same time the troopers, who were driving separate Maryland State Police-issued patrol vehicles, were traveling north on the same road. The troopers attempted to block the road with their vehicles in the area of Mapleville and Mount Aetna roads. Esquivel accelerated the Mitsubishi and crashed into one of the troopers’ vehicles.

Investigators said Esquivel fired at the troopers through his own windshield. At least one of the troopers exchanged gunfire with the suspect. Detective Sergeant Martin and the suspect were both shot.

Responding troopers provided medical treatment to Esquivel at the scene. He was transported by ambulance to Meritus Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.  A handgun was recovered at the scene.

The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit is investigating the shooting involving the gunman and the troopers. As per Maryland State Police protocol, the troopers involved in the shooting will be placed on administrative duty pending the completion of the investigation.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the homicide investigation involving the shooting at the warehouse facility. The FBI and ATF are assisting the Washington County Sheriff’s Office with the homicide. Maryland State Police, the Washington County’s Sheriff’s Office along with the ATF and the FBI will continue to assist one another over the course of the investigation.

The case remains under investigation.

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