Gunman Sued Paper Before Opening Fire on Capital Gazette Newsroom
A gunman opened fire upon the newsroom of an Annapolis daily paper on Thursday, killing five members of the staff.
Capital Gazette editors Rob Hiaasen and Gerald Fischman, sportswriter John McNamara, reporter Wendi Winters and sales assistant Rebecca Smith all lost their lives. Two others were injured.
The suspect in custody, Jarrod Ramos, was a disgruntled reader of the local paper, and the subject of a former column published by the Gazette.
This story exposed Ramos, 38, as the predator of a year-long online harassment ordeal which led to him pleading guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge. Following the publishing of this information in 2011, Ramos sued the columnist for defamation in 2012 and made numerous pointed threats to the newspaper staff.
Police arrived on scene about a minute after the incident began and found Ramos in the office, hiding beneath a desk. He was not carrying any identification and his fingerprints had been altered, but officers used a facial recognition technology to identify him.
Ramos is being charged for five counts of first-degree murder. He was uncooperative in his first hearing late Thursday night, but appeared in the Anne Arundel County District Court Friday morning, where Judge Thomas J. Pryal ordered that he will be held without bail.
According to first-hand accounts published by Gazette reporters on Friday, Ramos used smoke grenades and shot through the glass doors to enter the newsroom, which is located in a multi-story office building. Officers confirmed that he had blockaded a back door to prevent escape.
“This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief,” President Trump said Friday. “Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job. To the families of the victims, there are no words to express our sorrow for your loss. Horrible, horrible event, horrible thing happened.”
The pump-action shotgun used in the attack was purchased legally roughly a year ago, according to Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare.
Police starting today’s press conference with condolences to the Capital Gazette staff: “Much like police, local newspapers become family” pic.twitter.com/54M5HKD9V7
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) June 29, 2018
Despite events that unfolded Thursday, Gazette staff rallied to compile a Friday paper. Reporters covered the shooting of their coworkers from the bed of truck belonging to a staff photographer, parked nearby to their office.
“I don’t know what else to do except this,” reporter Chase Cook told the Baltimore Sun.