Police: Newspaper gunman worked methodically, blocked exit

Jarrod Ramos

"This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people," Krampf said.

Posted: Jun 29, 2018 6:17 AM
Updated: Jun 29, 2018 2:35 PM

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The gunman accused of killing five people in a vendetta against a Maryland newspaper barricaded the rear exit to prevent anyone from escaping and blasted his way through the newsroom with a pump-action shotgun, cutting down one victim trying to slip out the back, authorities said Friday.

"The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could," Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare said as Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, was charged with five counts of murder in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

Ramos' long-held grudge against the Capital Gazette included a string of menacing online messages and a failed defamation lawsuit over an article about him pleading guilty to harassing a woman. Police looked into the online threats in 2013, but the paper declined at the time to press charges for fear of inflaming the situation, Atltomare said.

"There's clearly a history there," the police chief said.

Ramos was denied bail Friday after a brief court hearing in which he appeared by video, watching attentively but not speaking. Authorities said he was "uncooperative" with interrogators. He was placed on a suicide watch in jail. His public defenders had no comment outside court.

Three editors, a reporter and a sales assistant were killed in the Thursday afternoon rampage.

The bloodshed initially stirred fears that the recent barrage of political attacks on the "fake news media" had exploded into violence, and police reacted by tightening security at news organizations in New York and other places. But by all accounts, Ramos had a specific, longstanding grievance against the paper.

At the White House, President Donald Trump, who routinely calls reporters "liars" and "enemies of the people," said: "Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs."

Prosecutor Wes Adams said Ramos carefully planned the attack, barricading the back door and using "a tactical approach in hunting down and shooting the innocent people." Adams said the gunman, who was captured hiding under a desk and did not exchange fire with police, also had an escape plan, but the prosecutor would not elaborate.

Few details were released at the court hearing on Ramos, other than that he is single, has no children and has lived for the past 17 years in an apartment in Laurel, Maryland. In the 2011 article that Ramos sued over, his lawyer said he had a degree in computer engineering and worked for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The attack began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance to the open newsroom. Journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places, describing agonizing minutes of terror as they heard the gunman's footsteps and the repeated blasts of the weapon.

Some 300 local, state and federal officers converged on the scene and within two minutes police had begun to corner Ramos, a rapid response that "without question" saved lives, Altomare said.

The police chief referred to Ramos as "the bad guy," refusing to utter his name because "he doesn't deserve for us to talk about him for one more second."

Ramos was identified with the help of facial recognition technology because of what the chief said was some kind of "lag" in getting results from the computer system used to analyze fingerprints. Police denied news reports that Ramos had mutilated his fingertips to avoid identification.

The chief said the weapon was a 12-gauge shotgun, legally purchased about a year ago despite the harassment case in which Ramos pleaded guilty. Authorities said he also carried smoke grenades.

He filed his defamation suit against the Capital Gazette in 2012, but a judge threw it out as groundless when Ramos was unable to point out a single statement in the article that was false or give an example of how it had harmed him.

He so routinely sent profanity-laced tweets about the paper and its writers that retired publisher Tom Marquardt said he called police in 2013, telling his wife at the time, "This guy could really hurt us."

The police chief said the newspaper didn't press charges at the time because "there was a fear that doing so would exacerbate an already flammable situation."

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

The online grudge apparently "went dark" for a period until some new posts just before the killings, Altomare said. But the chief said police were not aware of Ramos' recent online activity until after the rampage, saying: "Should we have been? In a perfect world, sure, we should have been."

Investigators were reviewing Ramos' social media postings and searching his apartment, where Altomare said they found evidence of the planning Ramos had put into the attack. The chief would not give details.

Those killed included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper's assistant managing editor and brother of novelist Carl Hiaasen. Also slain were editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, special projects editor Wendi Winters, reporter John McNamara and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

The newspaper said two other employees were treated for minor injuries.

The city of Annapolis announced a vigil for the victims Friday night at a public square near the Capitol.

___

Contributors include Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo, Sarah Rankin and Denise Lavoie and the AP News Research Center in New York.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 449492

Reported Deaths: 6047
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin933031483
Ramsey40134741
Dakota33159344
Anoka31061365
Washington20220230
Stearns17922188
St. Louis13730242
Scott1199496
Wright11656104
Olmsted1054775
Sherburne822065
Carver696436
Clay653981
Rice610769
Kandiyohi554871
Blue Earth543233
Crow Wing484877
Otter Tail457967
Chisago453336
Benton421086
Winona390046
Douglas375766
Nobles371746
Mower367829
Goodhue349259
Polk328958
McLeod325745
Morrison312145
Beltrami311048
Lyon302538
Becker286239
Itasca285243
Isanti282941
Carlton280943
Steele27489
Pine267013
Freeborn247923
Todd232230
Nicollet225436
Brown215534
Mille Lacs214545
Le Sueur210715
Cass207723
Meeker200033
Waseca190116
Wabasha17243
Martin170826
Roseau165717
Hubbard149538
Redwood139827
Renville137540
Houston137213
Dodge13544
Chippewa131632
Cottonwood127718
Fillmore12435
Wadena120117
Rock110312
Sibley10857
Aitkin108333
Faribault106716
Watonwan10678
Pennington99715
Kanabec98018
Pipestone94723
Yellow Medicine93715
Murray8935
Jackson86010
Swift83518
Pope7415
Marshall70315
Stevens7018
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake64915
Wilkin6269
Koochiching59710
Lincoln4871
Big Stone4603
Unassigned43668
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37220
Red Lake3174
Traverse2523
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307088

Reported Deaths: 4340
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46016457
Linn17864278
Scott15566166
Black Hawk13875238
Woodbury13040177
Johnson1216051
Dubuque11434153
Pottawattamie9047113
Dallas896572
Story871235
Webster470172
Cerro Gordo467871
Sioux456157
Clinton451863
Warren449038
Marshall428662
Buena Vista393829
Muscatine392278
Des Moines383641
Plymouth351468
Wapello346598
Jasper324059
Lee318131
Marion305752
Jones272649
Henry264831
Carroll255934
Bremer246848
Crawford232324
Washington220332
Boone219517
Benton210150
Mahaska195037
Jackson193031
Tama188758
Dickinson186227
Kossuth174844
Delaware174536
Clay169820
Wright165224
Fayette163623
Hamilton160730
Buchanan160423
Winneshiek156919
Harrison156762
Hardin155529
Cedar154219
Clayton151548
Butler149224
Page144915
Floyd139836
Cherokee139227
Mills136916
Lyon135732
Poweshiek133924
Hancock130724
Allamakee129628
Iowa126022
Calhoun12299
Grundy121626
Jefferson121325
Madison12129
Winnebago119729
Mitchell116235
Louisa115430
Cass113942
Chickasaw112212
Sac111115
Emmet110831
Appanoose110740
Union109222
Humboldt105819
Guthrie103424
Shelby103427
Franklin102718
Unassigned9410
Palo Alto90910
Montgomery86423
Keokuk85626
Howard84419
Monroe81319
Clarke7987
Pocahontas77711
Ida74730
Davis69421
Greene6947
Adair69020
Lucas6589
Monona64616
Osceola6419
Worth6133
Taylor5949
Fremont5176
Van Buren49713
Decatur4934
Ringgold44311
Wayne41721
Audubon4158
Adams2973
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: -10°
Mason City
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: -12°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: -6°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: -8°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: -12°
A cold end to the workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

RPD, Marine ROTC duke it out in physical challenge

Image

Century defeats John Marshall in early season matchup

Image

RCTC women's basketball preps for first game in almost two years

Image

Semper Fi, RPD meets Marines

Image

Can your employer force you to get a Covid-19 vaccine?

Image

Aaron's Thursday Night Forecast

Image

Mayo Clinic holds virtual town hall

Image

More Iowans will be eligible for vaccine in February

Image

RPD and Marines train together

Image

New speeding laws

Community Events