Maryland shooter had long-standing grudge against The Capital and harassed its staff since 2011
Jarrod W. Ramos, who had a long-standing grudge against The Capital, is being held as the suspect in the deadly shooting Thursday at the Annapolis newspaper,
The shooter who terrorized the newsroom at Maryland's Capital Gazette and killed five people reportedly had a longstanding grudge against the newspaper after they had exposed him for stalking a woman on Facebook.
On Thursday afternoon, 38-year-old Jarrod W. Ramos launched the attack on journalists in their newsroom, armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Ramos refused to identify himself to authorities as he was arrested, shortly after they stormed the building.
Police are calling the onslaught a "targeted attack" on The Capital Gazette, claiming that he entered the news building "looking for his victims." However, the motive behind the shooting has not been established as yet.
The victims include Robert Hiaasen, 59, Gerald Fischman, 61, John McNamara, 56, Wendi Winters, 65, and Rebecca Smith, 34.
According to law enforcement, the newspaper had previously received threats on social media. Investigators are now trying to determine if there is a link between the suspect and the threats that were issued against the company.
Back in 2013, the gunman had sued the newspaper for defamation, albeit unsuccessfully.
In a 2011 article published by Capital Gazette titled 'Jarrod wants to be your friend', Ramos was the subject of their story. The article reported that Ramos had harassed and threatened a former classmate on Facebook. In a slew of emails, Jarrod reportedly called her offensive names, even telling her to kill herself.
Subsequently, Ramos filed a lawsuit against the newspaper, the reporter who wrote the said article, a judge presiding over his case, as well as the woman who testified against him in court. However, Ramos was unable to prove that the newspaper printed false accusations against him and thus had his defamation suit thrown out on appeal in 2015.
Ramos released a barrage of profanity-laced tweets in the months that followed his loss. In one of these tweets, he targeted, Rob Hiaasen, one of the journalists who was killed on Thursday. In another tweet, he said he would enjoy seeing the paper stop publishing, but said "it would be nicer" if two journalists "cease[d] breathing."
Ramos's escalating social media attacks against the newspaper perturbed Tom Marquardt, a retired publisher and top editor at the outlet, who told The Capital Gazette of his concerns on Thursday. Back in 2013, he had told law enforcement about Ramos and was considering filing a restraining order against him.
"I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence,' Marquardt said. 'I even told my wife, 'We have to be concerned. This guy could really hurt us.'"
On Thursday, police confirmed that the Gazette had received "general threats" sent over social media that indicated hostility.
At a press conference late Thursday, Anne Arundel County Acting Chief William Krampf said: "This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm."
A court and crime reporter for the Gazette, Phil Davis, said that the assailant shot through a glass door and then sprayed the newspaper employees with his bullets.
"A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead," he tweeted, while he said he was waiting to be interviewed by police.
"Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can't say much more and don't want to declare anyone dead, but it's bad.
"There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload."
Davis said that while he wrote about mass shootings as part of his crime beat, but experiencing one first hand was a completely different thing.
"I'm a police reporter. I write about this stuff - not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death - all the time," he said. "But as much as I'm going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don't know until you're there and you feel helpless."
In the hours that followed the shooting, the editor of The Capital Gazette, Jimmy DeButts tweeted saying he was "devastated, heartbroken and numb."
"I'm in no position to speak, just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day. There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays - just a passion for telling stories from our community," he tweeted.
"We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment.
"We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.
"We try to expose corruption. We fight to get access to public records & bring to light the inner workings of government despite major hurdles put in our way. The reporters & editors put their all into finding the truth. That is our mission. Will always be."
Chase Cook, another reporter who fortunately wasn't inside the building at the time, tweeted that although they did not have much information at the time, "I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow."
In a conversation with CNN, Selene San Felice said she was at her desk when she heard the shots. She immediately ran towards a back door along with some others but to her dismay, she found that it was locked.
"I heard footsteps a couple of times... I was breathing really loud and was trying not to, but I couldn't be quiet,' she added. Having gone to school in Florida, she recalled accounts of a gunman's June 2016 mass shooting attack on Orlando's gay nightclub Pulse and how terrified people crouching inside had texted loved ones. Dozens were killed there.
"And there I was sitting under a desk, texting my parents and telling them I loved them," she said.
Lt. Ryan Frashure, a spokesman for the police, said that the officers responded quickly, arriving at the scene within 60 seconds, and captured the shooter without firing a bullet.
As a fleet of police cars and other emergency vehicles arrived at the scene, about 170 people were evacuated from the building. The suspect was undergoing questioning by detectives at the time, according to authorities.
"The shooter has not been very forthcoming, so we don't have any information yet on motive," Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said. "To my knowledge, there was no verbal aspect to the incident where he declared his motives or anything else, so at this point, we just don't know."
During a press conference, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he was "absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis."
"I am in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh, and @MDSP is on the scene assisting @AACOPD. Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community."
"Your heart goes out to all the people that lost their lives. We have had several fatalities and we have had several people hospitalized."
While the Mayor of Annapolis, Gavin Buckley, said the whole community was grieving the attack on their neighborhood newspeople.
"These are the guys that come to city council meetings, have to listen to boring politicians and sit there," Buckley said. "They don't make a lot of money. It's just immoral that their lives should be in danger."
As a precaution, New York authorities deployed counterterrorism teams to various news organizations across the city. Early in the evening of the attack, there was a heavy police presence outside the buildings of Fox News, ABC News, and The New York Times.
President Trump said that before departing Wisconsin, he was briefed on the shooting at the newspaper firm.
He said: "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families" as he thanked "all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene."
Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said: "There is no room for violence, and we stick by that. Violence is never tolerated in any form, no matter whom it is against."