Maryland community reeling after mass shooting inside the Capital Gazette newsroom
WJLA-TV(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — A community is reeling hours after a gunman targeted the local Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland, looking for victims before he gunned down five unsuspecting employees.
The suspect, whom law enforcement sources named as Jarrod Warren Ramos, allegedly walked into the newspaper office at 888 Bestgate Road in Annapolis with a shotgun and fatally shot four journalists and a sales assistant.
Keith Cyphers, who works in an office across the hall from the Capital Gazette, told “Good Morning America” he heard an “incredibly loud noise… I could feel it in my chest.”
He peered out from his desk and saw the Capital Gazette’s door “shattered.”
“There was a man who was holding a shotgun,” Cyphers said. “He had it braced against his chest and he was moving through the lobby of the Capital Gazette office, pointing the shotgun deeper into the office.”
Cyphers said he heard yelling and then more gunshots.
Phil Davis, a crime and courts reporter with the Capital Gazette, tweeted., “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”
The alleged shooter was quickly taken into custody by responding officers after the Thursday afternoon shooting.
All five victims in the shooting were employees of the Capital Gazette, authorities said.
Wendi Winters, 65, was a writer who worked for special publications.
Robert Hiaasen, 59, was the assistant editor for news and a columnist at the paper.
Gerald Fischman, 61, was an editorial page editor and regularly wrote opinion pieces for the paper.
John McNamara, 56, was a staff writer.
Rebecca Smith, 34, was the youngest victim and only non-journalist to be killed. She worked as a sales assistant for the paper.
Two people who were injured in the shooting, neither by gunfire, were released from the hospital overnight.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he is “praying for the victims, those who were injured, and their families, friends, and loved ones in this time of tragedy.”
“The Capital Gazette is my hometown paper, and I have the greatest respect for the fine journalists, and all the men and women, who work there,” Hogan said in a statement. “They serve each day to shine light on the world around us so that we might see with more clarity and greater understanding.”
‘We are putting out a damn paper’
Reporters and editors of the Capital Gazette vowed in the wake of the attack they would publish a paper even after the death of five of their colleagues. They worked alongside reporters from the Baltimore Sun, which owns the newspaper
“There will be a Capital Friday,” tweeted Capital Gazette photojournalist Joshua McKerrow.
The paper arrived on doorsteps and at convenience stores as promised, with a headline of, “5 shot dead at The Capital.”
The suspected gunman and his history with the paper
The Anne Arundel County Police Department has not identified the suspect, but law enforcement sources identified him to ABC News as Ramos. Court records show Ramos is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and has a bail hearing set for Friday morning.
The 38-year-old native of Laurel, Maryland, about 30 minutes inland from Annapolis, apparently had a long-standing grudge against the local newspaper.
Tom Marquardt, the former editor and publisher of the Capital Gazette, told ABC News that he first “crossed paths” with Ramos in 2012 when the Gazette wrote a story about the now alleged suspect in connection with a stalking case.
“Our court reporter had written about a case he had in which he was a defendant in a stalking case and he was, Jarrod was, quite upset with the story and he really created a webpage that allowed him to vent and express his frustration and his anger towards me, the reporter and the newspaper,” Marquardt said. “Shortly after that he filed a defamation lawsuit against us.”
The lawsuit was the beginning of an ongoing campaign of hatred directed toward the Capital Gazette, Marquardt said.
“He represented himself and took advantage of the legal system to keep the case alive for a long period of time during which he sued lawyers, judges, anybody who crossed his path and disagreed with him,” he said.
“During that time he continued to rant on his Facebook page to a point that we were feeling threatened physically from what he was saying. So during that time we had consulted with our own lawyers in the best steps that we could take, as well as the police, and we had actually contacted the police to pursue one particular comment in which he wished I would be dead and the police looked into it.”
Ramos’ legal action against the newspaper was unsuccessful, Marquardt said, and the suspect exhausted all of his appeals by 2014.
Marquardt said he could only comment on threats made against himself, but knew Ramos had wished him dead in the past on social media.
“We contacted police … and they went out to talk to him,” he said. “They reviewed all the tweets so far and again came away with the feeling that there really wasn’t enough substance there to pursue a case in court.
Police would not confirm any specific threats made by Ramos on social media, but said they were aware of them.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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