Suspect in Maryland newspaper shooting faces 5 murder charges

Updated June 29, 2018 - 5:00 pm

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland man who blasted his way into a local newspaper office and systematically shot employees with a pump-action shotgun was charged with five counts of first-degree murder during a court hearing Friday.

Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, Maryland, was charged in the Thursday attack on the newspaper and denied bail. He is being held in an Annapolis detention center.

The first-degree murder charges carry a maximum penalty of life without parole. Maryland has no death penalty.

The gun violence in Maryland is the latest in a spree of mass killings that have occurred in recent months, including ones at a Florida high school, a Texas church and a music festival in Las Vegas, where 58 people died and hundreds wounded in what is now classified as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

The organized attack prompted President Donald Trump to comment during an event in the East Room at the White House.

“This attack shocked the conscience of our nation, and filled our hearts with grief,” Trump said.

 

“Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job,” said Trump, who has derided the media during campaign appearances as the enemy of the American people.

Police said Ramos was carrying out a vendetta against the Capital Gazette newspaper, and the motive may have been retaliation for reporting on a stalking case in which the suspect harassed a former Annapolis High School classmate online and on social media.

A history of threats

Police also said there was a history of threats by Ramos against the newspaper, which began in 2013 after he unsuccessfully sued the Capital Gazette and reporter Eric Hartley, who wrote a column about the stalking case.

Police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said Hartley was in the courtroom when the Ramos case was heard and wrote a story about it. Ramos pleaded guilty to harassment in 2011, the Washington Post reported.

The defamation suit filed by Ramos named Hartley and then-Editor Tom Marquardt. It was dismissed on appeal in 2013.

“At this time, that appears to be a motive,” Frashure said.

Frashure said some online banter between Hartley and the shooting suspect began after the case. Hartley could not be reached for comment.

Hartley later worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal from late 2014 to 2015 covering the city of Henderson.

A Twitter account, @EricHartleyFrnd, believed to belong to Ramos, used Hartley’s altered image as its avatar. Several posts from the account harassed Hartley while he worked at the Review-Journal, as well as other staffers, including Michael Hengel, the paper’s editor at the time.

Online threats against the Capital Gazette were made in 2013, and police spoke with newspaper officials about filing charges. Marquardt was invited to take part in those talks, but did not participate, said Timothy Altomare, the Anne Arundel County police chief.

The newspaper decided against pressing charges to avoid antagonizing the shooting suspect, Altomare said.

Still, he said: “There is clearly a history there.”

The chief said the threats were made generally against the newspaper, and not specific individuals.

In 2015, Ramos tweeted that he would like to see the Capital Gazette stop publishing, but “it would be nicer” to see two of its journalists “cease breathing.”

‘He planned it’

Police allege that Ramos, a computer engineer who had worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, used a 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun that was legally purchased a year ago to blast open the glass door of the newspaper offices on the first floor of an office building. He then walked through the newspaper and shot his victims, police said.

“The fellow was there to kill as many people as possible,” Altomare said. “He planned it.”

Prosecutor Wes Adams said Ramos also had barricaded the newspaper’s rear exit to prevent anyone from escaping, and had an escape plan that he never implemented.

After the first shotgun blast, journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places, describing agonizing minutes of terror as they heard the gunman’s footsteps and the repeated shots of the weapon.

“I was curled up, trying not to breathe, trying not to make a sound, and he shot people all around me,” Capital Gazette photographer Paul Gillespie, who dove beneath a desk, told The Baltimore Sun, owner of the Annapolis paper.

Gillespie said he heard a colleague scream, “No!” It was answered by a gunshot blast. He heard another co-worker’s voice, then another shot.

Three editors, a reporter and a sales assistant were killed in the afternoon rampage. They were identified as Editorial Page Editor Gerald Fischman; Wendi Winters, the special publications editor; Rob Hiaasen, an assistant editor and columnist; reporter John McNamara; and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

Two others were injured in the attack, but police said their wounds likely were from broken glass. They were identified as Rachael Pacella and Janel Cooley.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh praised local police, who were on the scene within 60 seconds of the call of an active shooter at the newspaper.

Police immediately entered the building and found the suspect hiding under a desk. No gunshots were exchanged between the suspect and police.

“It’s a very 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.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ad-high_impact_4
News
NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like