On Thursday afternoon, a man walked into the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades, reports The Washington Post. Officials have identified Jarrod Warren Ramos as the suspect in the targeted shooting that took the lives of five employees and injured others.
Ramos, a 38-year old resident of Laurel, Md., has been charged with five accounts of first-degree murder, per The Baltimore Sun ,who owns the Capital Gazette. The victims of the shooting include assistant editor and Sunday columnist Robert Hiaasen, editorial editor Gerald Fischman, writer and editor John McNamara, sales assistant Rebecca Smith, and editor and community reporter Wendi Winters. The shooting was a “targeted attack on The Capital Gazette,” according to Anne Arundel County acting police chief Bill Krampf, who spoke at a press conference on Thursday evening. Krampf said, “He [the gunman] looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level.” He went on to say, “This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm.”
Ramos entered the newspaper office by shooting through a glass door, as Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis revealed in a series of harrowing tweets. Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare told reporters that Ramos used a 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun that was purchased legally one year ago. In the planned attack, he barricaded the building’s back door so no one could escape, prosecutors said on Friday. “The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could kill,” Altomare said.
The newspaper had a history with Ramos. According to Anne Arundel County Executive Steven Schuh in an interview on Friday, Ramos had a “long-standing grievance” with the Gazette and had filed lawsuits against the paper in the past. CNN reports that the conflict first arose in 2011 when the newspaper reported on a court case in which Ramos pleaded guilty to a harassment charge in the District Court of Maryland, according to court documents. The Capital Gazette’s article was titled “Jarrod wants to be your friend,” and told of how Ramos had reached out to a former female high school classmate over Facebook. The woman claimed that Ramos had harassed her by telling her to kill herself, calling her vulgar names and asking for help.
The Capital Gazette article was written by a former staffer, Eric Thomas Hartley, and was published less than a week after Ramos’ conviction. Ramos was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation. A year later, Ramos filed his first complaint against the newspaper, claiming that he was “defamed by the story.” Months later, he filed another complaint, adding that the newspaper had invaded his privacy. In 2015, Ramos lost a defamation case against the newspaper.
A law enforcement source revealed a Twitter account with Ramos’ name and the handle @EricHartleyFrnd is believed to belong to Ramos. A December 2015 tweet read, “Eric Thomas Harley knows from experience, but doesn’t appreciate how bad it can get. Journalist Hell awaits.” According to The Sun, the day after Ramos was charged with harassment in 2011, the account tweeted, “F—- you, leave me alone.” The same tweet was posted on Thursday before the shooting took place. Following the shooting, the account was suspended by Twitter.
Thomas Marquardt was the former editor and publisher of the Capital Gazette at the time of the Ramos conflict. He told The Sun he wasn’t surprised that Ramos was the suspect. He said, “I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence. I even told my wife, ‘We have to be concerned. This guy could really hurt us.’”
Ramos’ aunt Vielka Ramos told The Sun that his grandmother had died a few years ago, after which he stopped attending family gatherings. “He was distant from the family. He just wasn’t close to anybody,” she said. “He was very intelligent. He would try to communicate with people but he was a loner.”
Schuh told CNN they found Ramos hiding under a desk in the Capital Gazette building when they arrived and he did not have any identification on him. Two law enforcement sources noted that his fingerprints appeared to be altered in order to make it difficult for police to identify him. However, they were able to identify him through facial recognition software, according to one law enforcement source.
As The Post notes, Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy J. Altomare revealed Ramos has not been cooperating with investigators as of Thursday night. The suspect, Altomare said, “hasn’t said much the whole time,” leaving “a lot more unanswered questions.” Ramos was due in court Friday morning at the Annapolis District Courthouse.