Five people were killed and two were injured in a shooting that police described as a “targeted attack” at the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday, authorities confirmed.
“This was a targeted attack. We can’t fathom why that person chose to do this. We don’t think we have any more clear and present dangers to the citizens of Anne Arundel County,” Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare said Friday at a news conference.
The suspected gunman, Jarrod W. Ramos, opened fire at 888 Bestgate Road in Annapolis — an office building where the Capital Gazette office is located. The suspected gunman was armed with a pump-action shotgun that was legally purchased a year ago and smoke grenades, officials confirmed Friday. Ramos was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the Capitol Gazette killings, AP reports.
Police initially believed Ramos may have had an explosive device inside the building, but later determined the canisters were smoke grenades that the suspect used when he entered the building. “This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm,” acting police chief Anne Arundel County William Krampf.
Here’s what we know about the shooting at the Capital Gazette:
What happened during the Capital Gazette shooting?
The suspected gunman, identified by the AP as Ramos, entered the building around 2:30 p.m., shooting through the glass entrance of the newsroom before opening fire.
Police responded to the shooting within 60 seconds and did not exchange any gunfire with the shooter, officials said.
Capital crime reporter Phil Davis tweeted an account of the shooting, saying: “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”
Davis also told the Baltimore Sun, which owns the Capital Gazette, that multiple people had been shot.
“I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time,” he told the Sun. “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.”
Anthony Messenger, a Capital Gazette intern who started working at the newspaper about a month ago, described what it was like being inside the newsroom during the shooting, saying him and a colleague thought they were “going to die,” in an interview Friday with the Today Show. A tweet sent from Messenger’s account asking for help went viral amid the shooting, and he said Friday that the female colleague he was with was the one who sent it.
“It’s a testament to her self awareness in that moment,” he said.
What do we know about the Capital Gazette shooter?
The suspected shooter appeared in court Friday through a video feed, according to the Associated Press. Ramos continued to be uncooperative with investigators as of Friday afternoon.
During Friday’s court appearance, prosecutors said Ramos had barricaded one of the exit’s at the Capital Gazette to trap people inside.
Prior to the shooting, Ramos had made threats against the Gazette on social media and had sued the newspaper for defamation in 2012 for a story on a harassment lawsuit filed against him. He ultimately wound up pleading guilty in the case and was given an 18-month supervised probation sentence.
The Capital Gazette, which runs several newspapers out of its Annapolis office, had received threats on social media as recently as Thursday, Krampf said. Police were still trying to find out who sent the threats but said they indicated violence.
Who are the victims of the Capital Gazette shooting?
Officials confirmed late Thursday that all of the victims of the shooting were employees at the paper. Among those killed were long-serving Capital Gazette and Baltimore Sun journalist Rob Hiassen, special publications editor Wendi Winters, writer John McNamara, editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.
Rachel Pacella and Janet Cooley, two employees that were injured during the shooting, were treated and released from the hospital, Altmore said Friday. He did not elaborate on the details of their injuries.
None of the victims from Thursday’s shooting were connected to Ramos’ lawsuit. It is unclear if any of them had previously interacted with him.
What was the reaction to the Capital Gazette shooting?
Shortly after the shooting, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Prior to departing Wisconsin, I was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.”
President Trump called the Capital Gazette shooting “horrific,” saying it “shocked the conscience of our nation” during a White House press conference Friday afternoon.
“Journalists like all Americans should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job,” he said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted, “Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis” – adding “Praying for those at the scene and for our community.”
The Sun reported that the Baltimore Police Department did a sweep of the Sun newsroom, which is about 26 miles away, following the report of the shooting in Annapolis.
The LAPD said it was “reaching out” to media organizations and monitoring the shooting.
The NYPD has deployed critical response units to several major newsrooms throughout New York City as a precaution. The NYPD’s Counter Terrorism unit tweeted, “We are closely monitoring the reports of an active shooter incident at the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland.”