Man charged with murder as five killed in newsroom
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