Suspect in Newsroom Attack Repeatedly Threatened Paper After Coverage of His Harassment Arrest
The suspect in the Maryland newsroom shooting that took the lives of five people made previous threats to The Capital Gazette
The suspect in the Maryland newsroom shooting that killed five people allegedly had a long-standing grudge against the The Capital-Gazette of Annapolis fueled by the paper’s coverage of his arrest on criminal harassment charges, and had made threats against the paper.
Acting Deputy Chief William Krampf of the Anne Arundel County Police Department told reporters Thursday night during a press conference that the suspect had made violent threats against the paper. He said the paper had been threatened the day of the shooting.
“To my knowledge, those threats were [made] as early as today,” Krampf said. “They were general threats towards The Capital and The Capital‘s media outlet. They indicated violence.”
Krampf could not confirm specifically what the alleged previous threats entailed or if the suspect was “targeting anyone specifically” at the paper, though he said the shooting was a “targeted attack on The Capital Gazette.”
The suspect has been identified as Jarrod Warren Ramos, 38, of Laurel.
The Capital-Gazette reports that, in 2012, the suspect filed a defamation lawsuit against the paper and a columnist over a July 2011 article about his criminal case. The article was allegedly followed by years of online threats and abuse.
He brought the unsuccessful suit against then-columnist Eric Hartley, naming Capital Gazette Communications and Thomas Marquardt, the paper’s former editor and publisher, as defendants.
A woman who spoke to WBALTV and said she’d been stalked by the suspect said she told police years ago that he “will be your next mass shooter.”
“He’s a f—— nut job,” the woman told the outlet.
On Thursday, the suspect’s since-disabled Twitter page featured an image of Hartley as its avatar and a banner image of Marquardt and the publication’s former owner, Philip Merrill, The Capital Gazette reports.
At 2:37 p.m., moments before allegedly going on his murderous rampage, the Twitter page was updated with a post that read: “F— you, leave me alone.” The same message, the paper reports, was posted to the account in 2015, the day after the state’s second-highest court upheld a ruling in favor of the newspaper dismissing the suit.
At a bail review hearing Friday morning, prosecutors alleged that the suspect first entered the paper’s offices through a back door, which he barricaded. He then allegedly shot his way through the front door before finding his way to the back door, where he shot people who had tried to flee.
The suspect was taken into police custody at the scene Thursday. Authorities said at a press conference he was uncooperative at first, refusing to tell investigators his name. He had no identification on him.
In addition to the five people killed, two were injured during the shooting.
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“The Capital newspaper is our local newspaper. We interact with The Capital newspaper daily. We have friends at The Capital newspaper,” Krampf said. “We speak with the men and women there on a daily basis. We are here and we are invested and we will get this investigation right.”
Police responded within 60 to 90 seconds and confronted the shooter, authorities said.
Speaking about the response by authorities, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said at an earlier press conference, “If they were not there as quickly as they did, it could have been a lot worse.”
Phil Davis, a reporter with The Capital Gazette, wrote on Twitter, “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.”
Davis also 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 suspect has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.