ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Reuters) – A gunman who blasted his way through a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, with a shotgun, killing at least five people in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history, was in custody on Friday pending charges, authorities said.
The gunman entered the Capital Gazette newspaper group on Thursday afternoon and opened fired through a glass door, looked for victims and then sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, police and a witness said.
Rob Hiaasen, 59, Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara were shot and killed, the acting police chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, William Krampf, told a news conference.
Smith was a sales assistant and the others were journalists, he said.
The Annapolis newspaper The Capital, part of the Gazette group, published an edition on Friday with photographs of each of the victims along with “5 shot dead at The Capital” as a headline in large bold lettering on its front page.
Police had not released the name of the suspect in custody and tweeted that the suspect not been booked.
But Capital Gazette and the Baltimore Sun named the suspect as Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Annapolis, citing law enforcement. Annapolis is the state capital of Maryland and part of the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.
Ramos had brought a defamation lawsuit in 2012 against Eric Hartley, formerly a staff writer and columnist with Capital Gazette, and Thomas Marquardt, then its editor and publisher, according to a court filing.
According to a legal document, an article contended that Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment.
The court agreed that the contents of the article were accurate and based on public records, the document showed, and in 2015, Maryland’s second-highest court upheld the ruling rejecting Ramos’s suit.
Ramos tweeted that he had set up a Twitter account to defend himself, and wrote in his biographical notes that he was suing people in Anne Arundel County and “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”
Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter, said he had been hiding under his desk along with other newspaper employees when the shooter stopped firing, the Capital Gazette reported on its website.
The newsroom looked “like a war zone,” he told the Baltimore Sun.
Capital Gazette runs several newspapers out of its Annapolis office. They include one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, The Gazette, which traces its origins back to 1727.
Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Kevin Liffey