Community remembers victims of Columbia Machine shooting in Smithsburg


SMITHSBURG — It’s been six days and the pain may never end.

The tri-state area lost three community members and saw two others injured in shootings Thursday near Smithsburg.

Mark Alan Frey, 50, of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania; Charles “CJ” Edward Minnick Jr., 31, of Smithsburg; and Joshua “Josh” Robert Wallace, 30, of the Hagerstown area, were killed at work, Columbia Machine at 12921 Bikle Road. Brandon Chase Michael, 42, was also shot by a colleague, who was taken to Meritus Medical Center.

Detective Sergeant. Phillip Martin, assigned to the West Division of the Law Enforcement Division, was hit in a firefight with the shooter about 6.5 miles southwest of the first shooting scene. The soldier was released from Meritus Medical Center on Thursday evening.

Court records:Columbia Machine shooter attempted suicide by cop

The Berkeley County, West Virginia man charged in the shooting faces three counts of first and second degree murder and three counts of attempted first and second degree murder, between other counts. The suspect was being held without bail at the Washington County Detention Center.

In the days following the shooting, people who knew those killed at the Bikle Road business spoke with The Herald-Mail to share memories of family members, friends or former colleagues. Brandon Michael’s father also spoke briefly with an Associated Press reporter on Friday.

Remembering CJ Minnick

Charles Minnick Jr. “was just a lovely kid”, who had “always been a country boy – but he had country smarts”.

“CJ”, as Tim Johnson of Falling Waters, W.Va. knew him, was a precocious child.

“I remember when he was just a little kid…he would sit with you and he would ask you about things, he would talk to you and have a better conversation than most adults could,” Johnson, a cousin, told the Herald-Mail on Friday.

Minnick’s mother, Robin Specht, called him “a pretty incredible young man. He was always very bubbly. He never met a stranger. Everyone who knew him loved him because of his contagious smile. “

And “he was an idiot,” she told the Herald-Mail.

CJ Minnick enjoyed the outdoors, according to family members, and enjoyed hunting.

After:With mass shooting at Columbia Machine, tragedy strikes ‘very close to home’

“He always told the best stories. He had been a storyteller for a long time…when his sister’s two kids were younger, he would pick up these crazy accents” to embellish his stories, she said. “He was always pretending to be like that guide in the woods, and he was telling these crazy stories and he was always making everyone laugh, you know?”

And then she cried a little.

He had married Lisa, “the love of his life,” several years ago, Specht said. They have a baby girl named Kaylee, 2 years old.

“They were the cutest couple, and then seeing him be a daddy to her little girl was just magical. I mean, his face lit up.

CJ Minnick, right, with his wife Lisa and daughter Kaylee.

“She loves the outdoors like he does. And she has that infectious little smile too,” Specht said. “He always had that sparkle in his eye because his eyes were blue, and she has that same sparkle. She’s just a carbon copy of him and pretty amazing.”

“One of the things I liked most about CJ was that nothing was ever too serious with him,” recalled another cousin, Brian Delauter, who saw him frequently while they hunted on owned by a family member. “Not in an immature way, but you know, it was lighthearted and just made it nice to be around him.

“He was always a happy guy, but bring Lisa around and you could tell he was his other half for sure. And then becoming a dad was probably one of the biggest things in his life. I have no doubt not that it was his greatest joy in his life – through all the deer, all the fish, all the other good things he got into, this little girl was the light of his life in every way” , said Delauter.

“The thing that I try not to keep kicking myself… I wish we talked more; I wish we had seen him more.”

Johnson recalled in a Facebook post how he took CJ’s sister, Heidi, to the Antietam National Battleground to work on a school project. “Of course CJ came along, following in my footsteps the whole time like a puppy, constantly asking questions,” he said.

“Every time we ran into another battlefield visitor, CJ would walk up to them and say, ‘That’s my cousin. He’s a re-enactor. Then he would proudly come back to join us on our tour.”

Minnick wasn’t quite the history buff his cousin is, Johnson said, but “he enjoyed history.”

But he “loved, loved, loved to hunt,” Specht said. “He would get into deer hunting when January came around and he wouldn’t be able to hunt until September.

“He was just an amazing dad. He was an amazing husband,” Specht said. “He always tried to see the best in everyone; he was a social butterfly. He was just full of life.”

Josh Wallace with his girlfriend, Taylor Toms, in October 2021. Wallace was one of three Columbia Machine employees killed on the job Thursday by a co-worker from Hedgesville, W.Va.

Remembering Josh Wallace

Taylor Toms said she and Josh Wallace went on their first date at Sonic, where she ordered a one foot chili cheese dog.

“If you don’t like me for who I am now, you never will,” she said, thinking as she ordered the messy hot dog after the pair met on Facebook. “He kissed me again after that.

“Josh showed me what real love was. He gave me butterflies, that bubbly, happy feeling,” said Toms, 25, hairstylist at Illusions in Inwood, W.Va.

Toms’ father, Michael, said Wallace had “such a good heart giving to my daughter”, who struggled.

“For the first time in 25 years of her life, I could feel she was okay because he always did things the right way,” Michael Toms said in a family phone interview with The Herald-Mail. Saturday.

Taylor Toms described her boyfriend as a provider and protector.

“He was everything to me and he loved me so much and that was all I could ask of him,” Taylor Toms said. “The way he looked at me, I could tell how much he loved me. Whenever I got childish or grumpy or crazy, he was so patient with me.”

The couple lived on the ground floor of the Westfields home of Michael Toms and his wife, Bonnie Lee, saving money for a place of their own and a wedding, Bonnie Lee said.

Taylor said Wallace was a hard worker, not only working at the Columbia Machine, but taking on side jobs like mowing for a buddy’s company after his day job. He planned to attend a school in West Virginia next spring to earn his master electrician license, the Toms family said.

Wallace and Michael Toms have spent a lot of time together the past few months working on a condo the Toms have in Ocean City, Maryland.

Wallace was a “good old-fashioned country boy” who enjoyed fishing and hunting, said Bonnie Lee Toms. He was a foodie who liked to spice up and smoke with friends, the Toms family said. He also liked to try different cuisines and with his buddies he ordered a whole alligator, which they grilled at a party, she said.

He also liked to eat seafood and started fishing off Assateague Island, befriended the locals to find out more and found a fishing spot the locals used, said Michael Toms.

A few weeks ago, Wallace lost a $300 fishing rod in the ocean.

He was upset that Taylor was angry because she knew he would spend another $300 of his savings on another cane, Michael Toms said.

Taylor Toms launched a GoFundMe is helping with Wallace’s funeral expenses.

Toms said she believed people wanted her to say the shooter should be dead, but she didn’t wish him that.

“I wish I had that anger against him. But I wish for the people who are hurting and who have been through all of this, that we all come together and realize that this man who did this, he is sick,” she said. .

It’s also “too easy for him to die,” she said. He must learn and get help.

For all of us to move on, we need to “forgive this sick man,” Taylor Toms said. “And we move on and mourn all those who have been lost.”

“My heart goes out to everyone who suffered from this terrible incident,” she said.

Wallace is the son of Hagerstown-area Tammy Boyd-Roberts, who wasn’t ready to talk about her son on Saturday. His father is deceased.

Tribute to the victims:Smithsburg community gathers for vigil after Columbia Machine shootings

Remembering Mark Frey

Joanie Gerber, who was president of Bikle Manufacturing before it was sold in 2019 and became Columbia Machine, said Mark Frey worked at the company for more than 25 years, working for her and her grandfather, Richard Bikle.

He attended Smithsburg schools and was a student at Smithsburg High School when she was a student there, with the two within a year of each other, Gerber said.

Frey was a family man, an avid and reliable hunter, she said in a telephone interview on Saturday.

“He was a good employee, loyal and loyal,” Gerber said.

Michael Brandon

Reached by phone on Friday, Nelson Michael, the father of Brandon Michael, 42, who was injured in the Columbia Machine shooting, said his son was still in hospital but didn’t know more. about his condition, according to the Associated Press. .

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

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

“I say no more. I’m just glad my son is alive, and I feel so bad for other people’s families,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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