The man accused of killing five people at a Maryland newspaper had an ongoing grudge with the publication, as details emerged as to the motives of the horrific massacre that left 5 dead,
Police did not officially release the name of the man they took into custody following the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. But a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to discuss the case publicly identified the suspect as Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, Maryland.
At least five people were killed, and several others were “gravely injured” in a shooting Thursday afternoon at the Capital Gazette in Anne Arundel County, USA Today reported.
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. The official said investigators still managed to identify him by facial recognition technology.
Police said a “long gun” was used in the incident but did not specify which kind. They said officers did not exchange gunfire with the suspect, who was now being interrogated. They said officers had recovered what appeared to be an “explosive device,” and had “tactically secured” the building, located at 888 Bestgate Road. About 170 people were inside at the time of the shooting, police said.
Court papers show that Ramos had filed a defamation suit against the newspaper in 2012. But a judge threw out the lawsuit and said Ramos “fails to come close to alleging a case of defamation.” A Maryland appeals court further concluded that everything printed in the July 31, 2011 newspaper story about Ramos appeared to be true, USA reported.
According to the court case, Ramos had pleaded guilty on July 26, 2011 in Anne Arundel County on a charge of criminal harassment and got a 90-day suspended jail sentence. Five days later, the Capital ran a story by staff writer Eric Thomas Hartley under the headline “Jarrod wants to be your friend.”
The story described a harrowing situation of a woman who was continually harassed by Ramos after he contacted her on Facebook.
“If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably gotten a friend request or message from an old high school classmate you didn’t quite remember,” Hartley wrote in the story. “For one woman, that experience turned into a yearlong nightmare”, USA Today detailed.
The details to the motives of the accused broke several hours after the massacre. Many began to speculate about the motives and assumed it had to do with politics.
Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter who was in the building at the time of the shooting, said multiple people were shot while he and other coworkers hid under their desks and wondered if they would ever again see the light of day. He said there was a lone male gunman.
“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,” Davis wrote on Twitter as he waited to be interviewed by police.
“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”
In a subsequent interview, Davis said it “was like a war zone” inside the newspaper’s offices — a situation that would be “hard to describe for a while.”
“The investigation has just started,” he said at a news conference. “We’re going to be quite a while in determining what occurred, why it occurred, how it occurred.”
Senior law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation told NBC News that the suspect, a white man wearing a black T-shirt and olive-green pants, had been identified through the use of facial recognition software. The sources said earlier that he had somehow obscured his fingerprints, making identification difficult. It’s now known the suspect mutilated his own fingers to mask his fingerprints.
A senior official told NBCNews the suspect is 39 years old. The suspect’s name has not been released, but sources told NBC News that he is from Maryland.
In a news conference Thursday night, the acting police chief said it was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette.
Executives from the Capital Gazette’s parent company are on the way to Annapolis, according to an internal memo from Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn obtained by CNN.
In the memo that CNN published, Dearborn said that “out of abundant precaution, we are increasing security presence at the company.”
He also reminded employees that counseling and support services are available. The company’s papers in Maryland will have counselors on site in the coming days, CNN reports.
“We are focused on providing support to our colleagues and their families,” Dearborn wrote in the memo. “Members of our corporate leadership team are traveling to Maryland immediately to assist our local leadership and employees in Annapolis and Baltimore.”
Dearborn also said “we are fully cooperating with the authorities.”
Capital Gazette Communications is a unit of The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which in turn is owned by Tronc, according to CNN.
Police increased their presence in front of some newspaper offices as a precaution, notably in front of the New York Times building in midtown by Port Authority Bus Terminal and Times Square, an area that already looks like a military fortress with the protections in place.