Jarrod Ramos: Maryland shooting suspect had long standing grudge against Capital Gazette newspaper

Five people were killed and several others injured 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 29 June 2018 16:54
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A Maryland man charged with five counts of murder after allegedly opening fire on a local newspaper, had a long-running dispute with the publication.

Officials charged 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos after he was taken into custody in the aftermath of the attack on the Capital Gazette, one of the country’s oldest newspaper and located in the city if Annapolis. His first court appearance took place on Friday where he ordered held without bail.

Four reporters and a sales assistant at the paper were killed in the attack after Mr Ramos allegedly entered the office and opened fire with a shotgun some time after 3pm on Thursday. One of the journalists, Phil Davis, a crime reporter, posted a series of tweets, explaining how he and others were in their office when the suspected shooter entered and opened fire.

“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” he wrote.

“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.”

Reuters said on Friday that while authorities have not released the identity of the suspect, online court records showed a man by the same name was charged with five counts of murder.

Mr Ramos had a long-standing grudge against the newspaper, and unsuccessfully sued for defamation in 2012, court records showed.

He had previously made “general threats” against the community newspaper company over social media, including some as recent Thursday, said William Krampf, Anne Arundel County’s acting police chief. The threats “indicated violence,” Mr Krampf said.

The news agency said that Mr Ramos is accused of entering the Capital Gazette office on Thursday afternoon and opening fire through a glass door, hunting for victims and spraying the newsroom with gunfire as reporters hid under their desks and begged for help on social media, police and witnesses said.

Annapolis shooting: 'Multiple casualties' at Capital Gazette newspaper building in Maryland

Rob Hiaasen, 59, Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara were shot and killed. All were journalists except for Ms Smith who was a recently employed sales assistant, said Mr Krampf.

The Capital newspaper, part of the Gazette group, published an edition on Friday with photographs of each of the victims and a headline “5 shot dead at The Capital” on its front page.

The newspaper's editors left the editorial page blank with a note saying that they were speechless.

Mr Ramos brought a defamation lawsuit in 2012 against Eric Hartley, a former staff writer and columnist with Capital Gazette, and Thomas Marquardt, then its editor and publisher, a court filing showed. Neither Mr Hartley or Mr Marquardt are still employed by the paper.

An article by Mr Hartley had contended that Mr Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment, according to a legal document.

The court agreed the article was accurate and based on public records, the document showed. In 2015 Maryland's second-highest court upheld the ruling, rejecting Ramos's suit.

Mr Ramos tweeted at the time that he had set up a Twitter account to defend himself, and wrote in his biographical notes that he was suing people in Anne Arundel County and “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities”.

According to a WBAL-TV reporter who said she spoke with the woman, Mr Ramos had harassed and became “fixated” with her for no apparent reason, causing her to move three times, change her name, and sleep with a gun, Reuters said.

Capital Gazette runs several newspapers out of its Annapolis office. They include one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, The Gazette, which traces its origins back to 1727.

The newspapers published by the company, part of the Tronc Inc media group, have focused on local news in the shadows of two much larger competitors, the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

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