Maryland Newsroom Shooting That Left 5 Dead Was 'Targeted Attack' | New Hampshire Public Radio

Maryland Newsroom Shooting That Left 5 Dead Was 'Targeted Attack'

Originally published on July 2, 2018 3:16 pm

Updated at 8:20 a.m. ET on Friday

Five people were killed and at least two others were wounded in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md., officials announced at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Acting Anne Arundel County Police Chief William Krampf confirmed an adult male is in custody and was being interrogated by law enforcement.

Law enforcement officials have identified the suspect as 38-year-old Jarrod Warren Ramos. He reportedly has had a long-standing feud with The Capital newspaper, one of the Capital Gazette's publications, over its coverage of a 2011 criminal harassment complaint against him.

Ramos has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

At a news conference Thursday, Krampf said the suspect used a shotgun and had smoke grenades.

"This was a targeted attack," he said.

The newspaper had received threats through social media on Thursday, according to Krampf, who would describe them only as "general threats toward the Capital" that "indicated violence." Police are working to confirm who sent the threats.

Authorities apprehended the shooting suspect, a Maryland resident, without any exchange of gunfire, Krampf said.

On Thursday night, Anne Arundel officials released the names of the employees killed in the shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom: Rebecca Smith, sales assistant; Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; Wendi Winters, special publications editor; John McNamara, staff writer; and Robert Hiaasen, an assistant editor and columnist.

In a Facebook post Hiassen's brother Carl, a renowned novelist, described Robert as "one of the most gentle and funny people I've ever known."

County Executive Steven Schuh told CNN four of the victims' bodies were found on the floor of the newsroom and a fifth person — a woman with severe wounds to her upper body — died after being evacuated to the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center.

At least two other wounded people "with less severe injuries" are being treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center, Schuh said.

It is unclear whether the shooting was limited to the newsroom or the gunman attacked people on other floors.

Krampf said his department interacts every day with the newspaper as it is the local paper for the county.

"We're here, we're invested, we're going to get this investigation right," he said.

Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis shared details on Twitter, writing: "Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees."

Anthony Messenger, an intern in the newsroom, first tweeted about the shooting at 2:43 p.m. ET, writing, "Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us."

Anne Arundel County Police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure confirmed that authorities arrived on the scene within 60 seconds of receiving a call about the shooting.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley praised law enforcement for its response, saying that if officers "were not there as quickly as they were it could have been a lot worse."

Police worked to secure the scene of a shooting at the building housing the Capital Gazette newsroom Thursday. Authorities say at least five people were killed.
Susan Walsh / AP

The Capital Gazette's website lists 20 newsroom employees.

Frashure said during the news conference that law enforcement from Annapolis, nearby Howard County, the Maryland State Police and federal agencies were participating in the response.

He said authorities were focused on clearing the building and reuniting the people inside with their families. Families should go to the Lord & Taylor outlet at the nearby Annapolis Mall, he said.

Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted he was "absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy," adding that he is in contact with authorities on the scene.

President Trump also tweeted about the incident, saying he had been "briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette," and he offered "thoughts and prayers."

Despite the tragic shooting, the newsroom's staff defiantly put out the Friday edition of the Capital. It also tweeted "Yes, we're putting out a damn paper tomorrow" along with a shot of its front page headline: "5 shot dead at The Capital."

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.

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Now more details about the shooting we mentioned at a newsroom in Annapolis, Md. This unfolded this afternoon at the Capital Gazette, a paper owned by The Baltimore Sun. We do not know how many people have been shot. We do not know their conditions. This story is still developing.

With that in mind, we have brought in NPR's Vanessa Romo. She's in the studio to tell us what we do know. Hey, Vanessa.


KELLY: So what is the latest? What have we actually confirmed?

ROMO: Well, it's difficult to confirm things at this moment because, as you can - as you said earlier, everything is still happening. So what we do know, the concrete details that we have are actually coming from a lot of the reporters who are inside of the building or who were there at the time that it happened.

KELLY: They're still reporting even as this is unfolding in their newsroom?

ROMO: Yes, they're tweeting about it. And actually, their website became live. They, like, posted a live story as I was in there reporting and trying to figure out what was happening. So there is someone actually in the newsroom right now typing out stories and telling the public what's happening. And what we do know is that there seems to have been a single gunman, and multiple people were shot.

We don't know how many people. We don't know how many or if there were fatalities. The county police department, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, who's there on the scene, has not confirmed how many fatalities. And ATF, who's also on the scene, has not said anything about fatalities. But what we do know is coming from reporters who are on Twitter, who are talking about what they saw today.

KELLY: OK. So you're describing police on the scene, federal officials on the scene. Do we know if this is over? Is the shooting contained at this point?

ROMO: We don't know if that's over. All we have are tweets, again, from inside the building. There's a reporter named Phil Davis who seems to be updating his Twitter feed pretty frequently. And what he has said so far is that there was a single shooter, that he shot through a glass door. He at one point was cowering...

KELLY: Into the newsroom? Is that what appears to have happened?

ROMO: It's unclear.

KELLY: You don't know, OK.

ROMO: It's very brief messages that are coming out. But at one point he shot through a glass door. And at some point, he reloaded. In fact, there was a tweet that he sent out that said, there's nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear a gunman reload. So we know that he reloaded at the very least one time.

KELLY: Do we have any information at this point on the shooter, any motive?

ROMO: There isn't any of that information that's come out so far at least from official channels.

KELLY: All right, that is NPR's Vanessa Romo reporting on the very few details. This is a story we will obviously continue to track throughout the evening. This unfolded at a newsroom in Annapolis, Md., this afternoon. That newsroom belongs to the Capital Gazette, a paper owned by The Baltimore Sun. We'll keep bringing you details as we have them. Thanks, Vanessa.

ROMO: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.