Man charged with mur­der as five killed in news­room

Western Mail - - UK&WORLD NEWS - BRIAN WITTE news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

FIRST-DE­GREE mur­der charges have been filed against a man who po­lice said tar­geted a news­pa­per in Mary­land, shoot­ing his way into the news­room and killing five peo­ple be­fore of­fi­cers swiftly ar­rested him.

Jar­rod Warren Ramos was in­ter­ro­gated, charged and jailed pend­ing a hear­ing in An­napo­lis.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said ear­lier that he was unco-op­er­a­tive.

The at­tack on The Cap­i­tal Gazette in An­napo­lis came amid months of ver­bal and on­line at­tacks on the “fake news me­dia” from politi­cians and oth­ers from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump down.

It prompted New York City po­lice to im­me­di­ately tighten se­cu­rity at news or­gan­i­sa­tions in Amer­ica’s me­dia cap­i­tal.

Po­lice de­scribed Ramos as a white man in his late thir­ties who lives in Mary­land.

Act­ing po­lice chief William Krampf, of Anne Arun­del County, said the gun­man “looked for his vic­tims”.

“This per­son was pre­pared to­day to come in, this per­son was pre­pared to shoot peo­ple,” Mr Krampf said.

Jour­nal­ists crawled un­der desks and sought other hid­ing-places as Ramos moved about the news­room, de­scrib­ing ag­o­nis­ing min­utes of ter­ror as they heard the gun­man’s foot­steps and the re­peated blasts of the shot­gun.

Po­lice said he was also armed with smoke grenades.

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 killed 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 hos­pi­tal.

Phil Davis, a courts and crime re­porter for the pa­per, tweeted that the gun­man shot out the glass door to the of­fice and fired into the news­room, send­ing peo­ple scram­bling un­der desks.

“There is noth­ing more ter­ri­fy­ing than hear­ing mul­ti­ple peo­ple get shot while you’re un­der your desk and then hear the gun­man reload,” he wrote in a tweet.

In a later in­ter­view ap­pear­ing on the pa­per’s on­line site, Mr Davis likened the news­pa­per of­fice to a “war zone”.

“I’m a po­lice re­porter. I write about this stuff all the time,” he said.

“But as much as I’m go­ing to try to ar­tic­u­late how trau­ma­tis­ing it is to be hid­ing un­der your desk, you don’t know un­til you’re there and you feel help­less.”

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 did not glimpse the gun­man.

“I heard foot­steps a cou­ple of times,” she said.

“I was breath­ing re­ally loud and was try­ing not to, but I couldn’t be quiet.”

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.

She said: “And there I was, sit­ting un­der a desk, tex­ting my par­ents and telling them I loved them.”

Sur­vivors said the shoot­ing – though it seemed ag­o­nis­ingly long – lasted mere min­utes.

> Ger­ald Fis­chman

> John Mc­Na­mara

> Wendi Win­ters

> Re­becca Smith

> Rob Hi­aasen

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