Five people were shot dead and others injured in what police described as a “targeted attack” on a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland on Thursday.
The shooter was arrested minutes after he began the rampage by police without further exchange of gunfire. The suspect was identified as Jarrod Ramos, 38. On Friday, online court records showed Ramos was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and scheduled for a bond hearing at 10.30am in Annapolis. No defense attorney was listed, but the records suggested he could be represented by a public defender.
Ramos had a long history of antagonism towards the Capital Gazette newspaper. In 2012, he sued several editors at the paper, claiming defamation after one of its columnists, Eric Hartley, reported that Ramos had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment of a woman on social media. The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in 2013 and the ruling upheld by a higher Maryland court in 2015, as the Capital Gazette itself reported.
In a late press briefing on Thursday, Anne Arundel police named the five employees who died. They were: Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.
Hiaasen’s brother, the best-selling author Carl Hiaasen, wrote on his Facebook page that Robert was “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known. He spent his whole gifted career as a journalist, and he believed profoundly in the craft and mission of serving the public’s right to know the news.”
The gunman opened fire with a shotgun in the newsroom. Dozens of police officers and federal agents responded within minutes. “He entered the building with a shotgun and he located his victims as he walked through the lower level,” William Krampf, Anne Arundel county’s acting police chief, said at a news conference.
Krampf said said a package earlier feared to contain explosives was found to contain smoke canisters. “This person was prepared to shoot people. His intention was to cause harm,” he said.
Phil Davis, the Capital Gazette’s courts and crime reporter, said he heard multiple colleagues being shot as he hid under a desk. Anthony Messenger, whose online biography said he was an intern at the newspaper, posted a series of tweets reporting a shooter and appealing for help.
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