Maryland police officers patrol the area after multiple people were shot at at The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Suspect in Maryland newspaper shooting to appear on 5 murder charges

A man armed with smoke grenades and a shotgun attacked journalists in the building Thursday, killing several people

First-degree murder charges were filed Friday against a man with a grudge against Maryland’s capital newspaper after police said he shot his way into the newsroom, killing four journalists and a staffer and wounding two others.

Jarrod Warren Ramos was swiftly arrested, interrogated and jailed pending a 10:30 a.m. hearing in Annapolis. No defence attorney was listed in online court records, but one note suggests he could be represented by a public defender. Another classifies him as “recalcitrant.” Investigators said earlier that he was unco-operative.

Acting Police Chief William Krampf of Anne Arundel County said the gunman “looked for his victims” Thursday in the newsroom of The Capital Gazette in Annapolis. “This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people,” Krampf said.

Ramos, 38, has a well-documented history of harassing the paper’s journalists that began years ago after the Gazette reported about his criminal conviction in a harassment case.

The attack began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance of the open newsroom. Journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places, describing agonizing minutes of terror as they heard his footsteps and the repeated blasts of the weapons. Police said he also was armed with smoke grenades.

It’s unclear what immediate motivation the gunman may have had. Investigators were reviewing his social media postings and searching his apartment in Laurel, Maryland, searching for clues.

“The shooter has not been very forthcoming, so we don’t have any information yet on motive,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said.

Those killed included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper’s assistant managing editor and brother of novelist Carl Hiaasen. Carl Hiaasen said he was “devastated and heartsick” at losing his brother, “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.” Also slain were Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; features reporter Wendi Winters; reporter John McNamara, and sales assistant Rebecca Smith. The newspaper said two other employees had non-life threatening injuries and were later released from a hospital.

“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” tweeted Phil Davis, the paper’s courts and crime reporter. In a later interview appearing on the paper’s online site, Davis likened the newspaper office to a “war zone.”

“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 this frame from video, people leave the Capital Gazette newspaper after multiple people have been shot on Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Annapolis, Md. (WJLA via AP)

Reporter Selene San Felice told CNN she was at her desk but ran after hearing shots, only to find a back door locked. She then watched as a colleague was shot, adding she didn’t glimpse the gunman.

“I was breathing really loud and was trying not to, but I couldn’t be quiet,” she said. “I’m going to need more than ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

The reporter recalled a June 2016 mass shooting attack on Orlando’s gay nightclub Pulse and how terrified people crouching inside had texted loved ones as dozens were killed. Said San Felice, “And there I was sitting under a desk, texting my parents and telling them I loved them.”

Police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers arrived within about 60 seconds and took the gunman into custody without an exchange of gunfire. About 170 people were then evacuated from the building, which houses other offices, many leaving with their hands up as police and other emergency vehicles arrived.

The attack came amid months of verbal and online attacks on the “fake news media” from politicians and others from President Donald Trump on down. It prompted New York City police to immediately tighten security at news organizations in the nation’s media capital.

At the White House, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters 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.”

The president tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders.”

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders added in a tweet: “Strongly condemn the evil act of senseless violence in Annapolis, MD. A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American. Our prayers are with the victims and their friends and families.”

Related: 5 dead, others wounded at Maryland newspaper shooting

Related: Trump refuses to address gun control following deadly Florida shooting

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said the community is grieving.

“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.”

The newspaper is part of Capital Gazette Communications, which also publishes the Maryland Gazette and CapitalGazette.com. It is owned by The Baltimore Sun.

The Associated Press Media Editors promised to help Capital Gazette journalists as they recover. An APME statement called on newspapers nationwide to help the paper continue its community coverage and fight for freedom of the press.

___

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

Brian Witte, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Steve Schuh, county executive of Anne Arundel County, holds a copy of The Capital Gazette near the scene of a shooting at the newspaper’s office, Friday, June 29, 2018, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Just Posted

Ambitious B.C. Aviation Museum need $10M to get iconic Lancaster back in the air

Volunteers flock to work on bomber, restoration expected to take 10 years

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to fall fake eagle tree at Ogden Point

Last year a fake tree was installed to try to entice eagles to stay in the area, without much success

Saanich to recognize Coun. Judy Brownoff for a quarter century on council

Award presentation will take place Monday evening

Saanich to potentially host first hydrogen fuel station on Vancouver Island

Station proposed for corner of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue

UVic project shows Keating Elementary students a helping hand

Victoria Hand Project offers free 3D printed arms in eight countries

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Inspirational Vancouver Island youngster dies after battle with brain cancer

Kaiden Finley ‘was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

Most Read