Gun­man at­tacks Md. news­pa­per, kills 5

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Witte

AN­NAPO­LIS, MD. » A gun­man opened fire in a news­pa­per of­fice in Mary­land’s cap­i­tal Thurs­day, killing five peo­ple and wound­ing oth­ers be­fore be­ing taken into cus­tody in what ap­peared to be one of the dead­li­est at­tacks on jour­nal­ists in U.S. his­tory, po­lice and wit­nesses said.

Po­lice said the sus­pect was a white man in his late 30s whose ram­page at The Cap­i­tal Gazette fol­lowed so­cial me­dia threats di­rected at the news­pa­per. Au­thor­i­ties said the man en­tered the build­ing in a tar­geted at­tack and “looked for his vic­tims.” He threw smoke grenades and fired a shot­gun at his vic­tims, ac­cord­ing to Anne Arun­del County Act­ing Po­lice Chief Wil­liam Krampf.

“This per­son was pre­pared to­day to come in, this per­son was pre­pared to shoot peo­ple. His in­tent was to cause harm,” Krampf said.

Krampf de­clined to iden­tify the sus­pect but said he was a Mary­land res­i­dent and search war­rants were be­ing sought for his home.

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

“A sin­gle shooter shot mul­ti­ple peo­ple at my of­fice, some of whom are dead,” he wrote.

Davis added: “There is noth­ing more ter­ri­fy­ing than hear­ing mul­ti­ple peo­ple get shot while you’re un­der your desk and then hear the gun­man reload.”

The at­tacker had mu­ti­lated his fin­gers in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to make it harder to iden­tify him, ac­cord­ing to a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial who was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. An­other of­fi­cial who also spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity said in­ves­ti­ga­tors iden­ti­fied the man us­ing fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy.

The shoot­ing — which came amid months of ver­bal and on­line at­tacks on the “fake news me­dia” from politi­cians and oth­ers from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on down— prompted New York City po­lice to im­me­di­ately tighten se­cu­rity at news or­ga­ni­za­tions in the na­tion’s me­dia cap­i­tal.

At the White House, spokes­woman Lindsay Wal­ters said: “There is no room for vi­o­lence, and we stick by that. Vi­o­lence is never tol­er­ated in any form, no mat­ter whom it is against.”

The gun­man was be­lieved to have used a shot­gun, ac­cord­ing to a U.S. of­fi­cial who was briefed on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion but not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss it pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. The gun­man was not car­ry­ing any iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, au­thor­i­ties said.

“The shooter has not been very forth­com­ing, so we don’t have any in­for­ma­tion yet on mo­tive,” Anne Arun­del County Ex­ec­u­tive Steve Schuh said. “To my knowl­edge, there was no ver­bal as­pect to the in­ci­dent where he de­clared his mo­tives or any­thing else, so at this point we just don’t know.”

Krampf con­firmed five deaths and said two peo­ple had su­per­fi­cial wounds. Au­thor­i­ties had said ear­lier that sev­eral peo­ple were gravely wounded.

Po­lice spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said of­fi­cers raced to the scene, ar­riv­ing in 60 sec­onds, and took the gun­man into cus­tody with­out an ex­change of gun­fire.

About 170 peo­ple in all were evac­u­ated from the build­ing as a mul­ti­tude of po­lice cars and other emer­gency ve­hi­cles con­verged on the scene. Peo­ple could be seen leav­ing the build­ing with their hands up.

The news­pa­per is part of Cap­i­tal Gazette Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, which also pub­lishes the Mary­land Gazette and Cap­i­tal­Gazette.com.

In an in­ter­view with The Cap­i­tal Gazette’s on­line site, Davis said it “was like a war zone” in­side the news­pa­per’s of­fices — a sit­u­a­tion that would be “hard to de­scribe for a while.”

“I’m a po­lice reporter. I write about this stuff — not nec­es­sar­ily to this ex­tent, but shoot­ings and death — all the time,” he said. “But as much as I’m go­ing to try to ar­tic­u­late how trau­ma­tiz­ing it is to be hid­ing un­der your desk, you don’t know un­til you’re there and you feel help­less.”

Davis told the pa­per he and oth­ers were still hid­ing un­der their desks when the gun­man stopped fir­ing.

“I don’t know why. I don’t know why he stopped,” he said.

Reporter Se­lene San Felice told the CNN broad­cast out­let she was at her desk when she heard the shoot­ing and ran with some oth­ers to a back door, only to find it locked. She said she saw a col­league steps away who was shot. But she didn’t see the shooter as she tried to hide.

“I heard foot­steps a cou­ple of times ... I was breath­ing re­ally loud and was try­ing not to, but I couldn’t be quiet,” she added. Hav­ing gone to school in Flor­ida, she re­called ac­counts of a gun­man’s June 2016 mass shoot­ing at­tack on Or­lando’s gay night­club Pulse and ac­counts of ter­ri­fied peo­ple crouch­ing in­side as they texted fam­i­lies amid fears for their lives. Dozens were killed there.

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

An­napo­lis Mayor Gavin Buck­ley said the com­mu­nity is griev­ing the at­tack on the com­mu­nity pa­per.

“These are the guys that come to city coun­cil meet­ings, have to lis­ten to bor­ing politi­cians and sit there,” Buck­ley said. “They don’t make a lot of money It’s just im­moral that their lives should be in dan­ger.”

JOSE LUIS MA­GANA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mary­land po­lice of­fi­cers block the in­ter­sec­tion at the build­ing en­trance, af­ter mul­ti­ple peo­ple were shot at a news­pa­per in An­napo­lis, Md., Thurs­day.

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