SMITHSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — A small town of about 3,000 people in Western Maryland is trying to pick up the pieces and remember the lives lost in a mass shooting on Thursday. A gunman shot and killed three people at Columbia Machine Inc. and injured another before firing at and striking a Maryland State Trooper.

As the tragedy was unfolding, Smithsburg’s mayor, Donnie Souders, was hundreds of miles away in Texas on a business trip.

WDVM spoke with Souders via Zoom on Friday, as his town was still reeling from heartbreak, from his hotel room in Austin, Texas. The conversation touched on how he hopes to help the community heal, as well as legislative measures he hopes can be achieved to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.

“There are families today, that yesterday had loved ones that they got up that kissed, they hugged, they went to work, they assumed they were going to come home, and then the tragic events of yesterday happened,” Souders said.

Souders, who works in construction site safety training, has served on the town council “on and off” since 2008. That was just after Christopher Nicholson, a Smithsburg police officer, was shot and killed in December 2007. Souders said he was thinking about Nicholson when he heard a trooper had been shot.

The mayor’s message to the community, including the families who lost loved ones: “We will be here to support you. And we will rally together. And together we will get through this.”

He called it “a shame” that some Smithsburg residents may not have the sense of security they had when they woke up Thursday morning, adding “unfortunately, we live in a society where we can’t legislate everything in every situation.”

Souders did say some legislation should be pushed forward. He said he doesn’t like the phrase ‘gun control,’ and noted Western Maryland’s 2nd Amendment and hunting culture. But he’s calling on Congress and state lawmakers in Annapolis to get something done.

“Put away the differences of the left and right, put away the differences of party, and work so that there [isn’t] another mass shooting in Smithsburg, there isn’t another mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, there isn’t another mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.”

Meritus Health President and CEO Maulik Joshi also responded to the shooting one day after his hospital treated the victims, and went on a temporary lockdown. He said in a statement, “in a dire situation, we saved a life.” The statement also reflected on the emotional and mental health needs of the care teams in the hospital, especially since this was the second shooting in as many days in Washington County.

On Wednesday, Meritus Health treated a gunshot victim after a shooting at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown.