The gunman who shot dead five people and injured two others in Maryland's Capital Gazette newsroom had a long-running grudge against the newspaper after they exposed him for Facebook stalking a woman.

Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, was armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades when he launched the attack on the journalists in their newsroom in Annapolis on Thursday afternoon.

He was arrested shortly after police stormed the building. Ramos, who lives in Laurel, Maryland, had refused to identify himself to authorities in the aftermath of the shooting, reports Daily Mail.

A law enforcement official said he had to be identified using facial recognition technology after purposely damaging his fingerprints in what investigators believe was an attempt to prevent them from quickly identifying him. Acting police chief William Krampf later denied this.

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There is no known motive at this stage but police said it was a "targeted attack" on the Capital Gazette and that he entered the building "looking for his victims".

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The five victims were named by police as Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Robert Hiaasen, 59, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara, 56.

Ramos had unsuccessfully sued the newspaper and one of its former reporters in 2013 for defamation. Photo / Facebook
Ramos had unsuccessfully sued the newspaper and one of its former reporters in 2013 for defamation. Photo / Facebook

Winters was the special publications editor, McNamara was a writer, Fischman was editorial page editor, Smith was a sales assistant and Hiaasen was an assistant editor and columnist.

Police said the newspaper had received threats on social media prior to the deadly shooting. Investigators said they were trying to determine if the threats were linked to the suspect.

Ramos had unsuccessfully sued the newspaper and one of its former reporters in 2013 for defamation. A Twitter profile under his name includes frequent tweets about the newspaper and its staff.

Ramos was the subject of a 2011 article - titled "Jarrod wants to be your friend" - after he pleaded guilty to criminal harassment. The article described him as having threatened and harassed a former high school classmate on Facebook. He sent the woman numerous emails spanning several months calling her vulgar names and telling her to kill herself.

In the years that followed, Ramos sued the newspaper, the reporter who initially wrote about the case, a judge and the woman who testified against him. His defamation suit was thrown out on appeal in 2015 because Ramos failed to prove that what the newspaper had printed was untrue.

Ramos routinely harassed journalists from the newspaper on Twitter in scores of profanity laced tweets. One of those tweets targeted one of the journalists killed on Thursday, Rob Hiaasen. In another tweet, he discussed how he'd enjoy seeing the paper stop publishing, but "it would be nicer" to see two journalists "cease breathing".

The newspaper still put out a print edition on Friday. Photo / Getty Images
The newspaper still put out a print edition on Friday. Photo / Getty Images

Other tweets from his account referenced previous journalist shootings, including the 2015 terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris

The woman who was harassed by Ramos told WBAL TV that she warned an ex-police officer years ago that he would "be young next mass shooter". Adding that he's a "f***ing nut job", the woman said Ramos became fixated with her for no apparent reason.

Tom Marquardt, retired publisher and top editor at the paper, told The Capital Gazette on Thursday that he had long been concerned about Ramos' history of escalating social media attacks against the newspaper and its journalists. He called police about Ramos in 2013 and considered filing a restraining order against him.

"I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence," Marquardt said. "I even told my wife, 'We have to be concerned. This guy could really hurt us.'"

Police confirmed that the newspaper had received 'general threats' sent over social media on Thursday that indicated violence.

The acting police chief said at a press conference late Thursday: "This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm."

Ramos was reportedly under a desk when police found him after storming the building. Authorities said they recovered a shotgun from the scene, as well as what they thought to be an explosive device. Police said the device "was taken care of" but didn't elaborate.

Even though a number of the colleagues were casualties in the shooting, staff at the newspaper provided rolling coverage and firsthand accounts of the tragedy throughout the evening.


Journalists described crawling under desks to hide in what they said was minutes of terror as they heard the gunman's footsteps and the repeated blasts of the shotgun as he moved about the newsroom.

People walk from the direction of the Capital Gazette building, where five people were fatally shot Thursday in Annapolis, Maryland. Photo / Washington Post
People walk from the direction of the Capital Gazette building, where five people were fatally shot Thursday in Annapolis, Maryland. Photo / Washington Post

Phil Davis, a court and crime reporter for the Gazette, said the lone gunman shot through the glass door of the offices and then opened fire on the newspaper employees.

"A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead," he tweeted, while he said he was waiting to be interviewed by police.

"Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can't say much more and don't want to declare anyone dead, but it's bad.

"There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload."

Describing the moment as like being in "a war zone", Davis said he and his colleagues were hiding under their desks, listening to the gunman firing and reloading until there was sudden silence.

"I don't know why he stopped," he said.

Davis added in an interview, with the surrounding press outside the newspaper's headquarters, that while he wrote about mass shootings as part of his crime beat, it was another thing to experience one first hand.

"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."

Jimmy DeButts, the editor of the newspaper's website, tweeted in the hours after the shooting that he was "devastated, heartbroken and numb".

"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 community," he tweeted.

"We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment.

"We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.

"We try to expose corruption. We fight to get access to public records & bring to light the inner workings of government despite major hurdles put in our way. The reporters & editors put their all into finding the truth. That is our mission. Will always be."

Another reporter Chase Cook, who wasn't inside the building at the time, tweeted that while they didn't have much information right now: "I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow."

An intern with the Capital Gazette, Anthony Messenger, tweeted at 2.43pm there was an "active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us."

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 as he was shot but didn't get a view of the shooter as she sought 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 how terrified people crouching inside had texted loved ones. Dozens were killed there.

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

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.

Authorities said the suspect was undergoing questioning by detectives.

"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."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said during a press conference he was 'absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.

"I am in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh, and @MDSP is on the scene assisting @AACOPD. Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community."

"Your heart goes out to all the people that lost their lives. We have had several fatalities and we have had several people hospitalized."

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said the community was grieving the attack on their 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."

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.

New York police sent counterterrorism teams to news organizations around the city in a move authorities said was a precaution, not prompted by any specific threat. Police could be seen outside The New York Times, ABC News and Fox News early in the evening.

President Trump said in a tweet that he was briefed on the shooting at The Capital Gazette before departing Wisconsin.

He said: "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families" as he thanked "all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene."

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."

Sen. Chris Van Hollen added in a tweet: "My heart is with the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims as we learn more about this terrible situation. We must unite to end the violence."

The Gazette is owned by the Baltimore Sun Media Group, which is owned by Tronc, inc. Police have also responded to check the Baltimore Sun newsrooms in the wake of the shooting.

The Capital Gazette is a daily newspaper that serves the city of Annapolis, Maryland. It's sister newspaper, The Maryland Gazette, is one of the oldest American newspapers.

Founded in 1884, it has a circulation of more than 30,000 daily and 35,000 for the Sunday edition.