Po­lice: Gun­man kills five at Mary­land news­pa­per

Sus­pect tar­geted jour­nal­ists, of­fi­cials say; re­porter de­scribes a ‘war zone’

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynh Bui, Ovetta Wig­gins and Tom Jack­man The Washington Post

AN­NAPO­LIS, MD. » A man with a ven­detta against an An­napo­lis, Mary­land, news­pa­per fired a long gun through the news­room’s glass doors and at its em­ploy­ees, killing five and in­jur­ing two oth­ers Thursday in a tar­geted shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

The iden­ti­ties of all of the vic­tims are un­known, but the at­tack likely is the dead­li­est in­volv­ing jour­nal­ists in the United States in decades.

Lo­cal po­lice said the Cap­i­tal Gazette was tar­geted in the Mary­land in­ci­dent that prompted height­ened se­cu­rity in news­rooms around the coun­try.

Po­lice, who ar­rived at the shoot­ing scene within a minute of the re­ported gun­fire, ap­pre­hended a sin­gle gun­man found hid­ing un­der a desk in the news­room, ac­cord­ing to the county’s ex­ec­u­tive.

Ac­cord­ing to lawen­force­ment sources, a man with a long-run­ning feud with the Cap­i­tal Gazette news­pa­per is be­ing held as a sus­pect in the shoot­ing.

Po­lice and fed­eral agents gath­ered late Thursday out­side the ad­dress of 38-yearold Jar­rod W. Ramos. Rich McLaugh­lin, chief of the Lau­rel Po­lice Depart­ment, said his of­fi­cers were there as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing, and other sources iden­ti­fied Ramos as the sus­pect.

In 2012, Ramos filed a defama­tion law­suit against the pa­per and a colum­nist over a July 2011 story that cov­ered a crim­i­nal ha­rass­ment case against him.

He brought the suit against the colum­nist, Eric Hart­ley, nam­ing Cap­i­tal Gazette Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Thomas Mar­quardt, the pa­per’s for­mer edi­tor and pub­lisher, as de­fen­dants.

A Twit­ter page in Ramos’ name on Thursday fea­tured Hart­ley’s pic­ture as its avatar, and a ban­ner im­age in­cluded pho­to­graphs of Mar­quardt and the Cap­i­tal’s for­mer owner Philip Mer­rill.

The page’s bio read: “Dear reader: I cre­ated this page to de­fend my­self. Now I’m su­ing the s--- out of half of AA County and­mak­ing corpses of cor­rupt ca­reers and cor­po­rate en­ti­ties.”

The sus­pect was re­port­edly not co­op­er­at­ing with po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors Thursday. He car­ried can­is­ters with smoke grenades that he used in­side the build­ing, po­lice said.

“This per­son was pre­pared to­day to come in, this per­son was pre­pared to shoot peo­ple,” act­ing Anne Arun­del County Po­lice Chief Wil­liam Krampf said. “His in­tent was to cause harm.”

Among those killed was the vet­eran colum­nist, edi­tor and jour­nal­ism teacher Rob Hi­aasen.

Hi­aasen, 59, the brother of best-sell­ing au­thor and journalist Carl Hi­aasen, had been a fea­ture writer at the Bal­ti­more Sun for 15 years be­fore mov­ing to the Cap­i­tal in 2010 as an as­sis­tant edi­tor.

“There is noth­ing more ter­ri­fy­ing than hear­ing mul­ti­ple peo­ple get shot while you’re un­der your desk and then hear the gun­man reload,” Gazette re­porter Phil Davis said on Twit­ter.

Davis de­scribed the scene as a “war zone” and a sit­u­a­tion that would be “hard to de­scribe for a while,” in a sub­se­quent news story posted to the daily news­pa­per’s web­site within 45min­utes of the shoot­ing.

“It ap­pears to be the act of a lone shooter,” Anne Arun­del County Ex­ec­u­tive Steve Schuh said. “It does not ap­pear to be a par­tic­u­larly well-planned oper­a­tion.”

The Cap­i­tal Gazette, An­napo­lis’ daily pa­per, is widely read in Mary­land’s state cap­i­tal and in sur­round­ing Anne Arun­del County, where it is head­quar­tered.

The news­pa­per touts it­self as one of the old­est pub­lish­ers in the coun­try, with roots go­ing back to the Mary­land Gazette in 1727.

“Devastated & heart­bro­ken. Numb,” Gazette edi­tor Jimmy De­Butts said on Twit­ter. “Please stop ask­ing for in­for­ma­tion/in­ter­views. I’m in no po­si­tion to speak, just know @capgaznews re­porters & ed­i­tors give all they have ev­ery day. There are no 40 hour weeks, no big pay­days — just a pas­sion for telling stories from our com­munty.”

The shoot­ing un­folded at around 3 p.m. in a brown five- story of­fice build­ing just out­side down­town An­napo­lis.

In an in­ter­view with a lo­cal ABC af­fil­i­ate, aman who works in the build­ing said he heard an “in­cred­i­bly loud bang” and looked out his of­fice to see aman sur­rounded by shat­tered glass hold­ing a gun at the front door of the Cap­i­tal Gazette.

“This guy was hold­ing what looked like a big shot­gun and mov­ing across the en­trance of the Cap­i­tal Gazette of­fice, point­ing the gun deeper into the of­fice like he was tar­get­ing peo­ple,” the man said.

Four died on scene and one woman was pro­nounced dead af­ter she was trans­ported to Mary­land shock trauma, Schuh said.

Po­lice car­ry­ing au­to­matic weapons rushed about 170 of­fice work­ers with their hands raised above their heads out of the build­ing to a depart­ment store across the street.

“I was so scared,” said Rayne Foster, who worked on the fourth floor. “I was very scared.”

Locked in a room with about a dozen oth­ers, Foster had sent a text to her daugh­ter: “There’s an ac­tive shooter. I love you.”

“I was tak­ing deep breaths,” she said. “We could hear them bust­ing out the glass doors and win­dows. It was so sur­real.”

Po­lice brought in the bomb squad to in­ves­ti­gate a knap­sack car­ry­ing some sort of de­vice found near the sus­pected shooter.

An­napo­lis Mayor Gavin Buck­ley saidp olice had prac­ticed ac­tive shooter train­ing last week.

“If they [lawen­force­ment] were not there as quickly as they did it could have beena lot worse,” Buck­ley said. “We did not ex­pect this to hap­pen in our com­mu­nity, but I don’t think we could have been any more ready.”

Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan also com­mended the quick po­lice re­sponse.

“It’s a tragic sit­u­a­tion, but there were some very brave peo­ple who came in and kept it from be­ing worse and the re­sponse time was in­cred­i­ble,” Ho­gan said, stand­ing with po­lice and lo­cal of­fi­cials at the scene.

Buck­ley said An­napo­lis is a small town where of­fi­cials all know the news­pa­per’s re­porters, who re­port on zon­ing is­sues, lo­cal crime or even a cat stuck in a tree.

“They don’t make a lot of money — maybe $30,000 a year,” Buck­ley said. “It’s im­moral that their lives were at risk.”

ALEX WROB­LEWSKI — GETTY IMAGES

Act­ing An­napo­lis Po­lice ChiefWil­liam Krampf speaks about the deadly shoot­ing at the Cap­i­tal Gazette news­pa­per Thursday.

MATT MCCLAIN — THEWASH­ING­TON POST

An of­fi­cer takes a po­si­tion out­side an of­fice build­ing where a mass shoot­ing took place Thursday at the Cap­i­tal Gazette in An­napo­lis, Md. Five peo­ple died, po­lice said.

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