- The Capital Gazette has identified Jarrod Ramos as the suspect in a shooting that left five of its staff dead on Thursday.
- Ramos sued the Gazette in 2012 for defamation over a story it wrote about him harassing a woman on Facebook and lost.
- He appealed the case but was denied the appeal.
- Ramos has been linked to a twitter account that frequently talked about killing or harming journalists.
The Capital Gazette identified Jarrod Ramos, a local man of 38, as the suspect in a shooting that left five of its staff dead on Thursday.
Police called the shooting “a targeted attack” by a suspect motivated by a “vendetta” against the local newspaper. Police later charged Ramos with five counts of first-degree murder,the Baltimore Sun reported.
Ramos had sued the Capital Gazette of defamation in 2012 over a story about him, but lost the case. Ramos in 2012 accused the Capital Gazette of publishing a defamatory article titled, “Jarrod wants to be your friend.”
According to court documents, the article described a “yearlong nightmare” in which a woman said Ramos harassed her after contacting her on Facebook.
“Out of the blue, Jarrod Ramos wrote and thanked her for being the only person ever to say hello or be nice to him in school,” the article, which was printed in full in the court documents, read.
The conversation between Ramos and the woman then devolved into Ramos repeatedly harassing her until he was taken to court where he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour harassment charge.
The article describesRamos as “a tall, thin man with long hair he wears in a ponytail.”
“He has a degree in computer engineering and has worked for the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics for six years… He had no previous criminal record,” the article, which was reproduced in full in the court documents, reads.
Ramos appealed the case in 2013 and lost. Multiple news outlets linked Ramos to a Twitter account based in the area with frequent tweets harshly critical about the Capital Gazette and other neighbouring publications. Several tweets threaten or promise violence or rape in the future, and many of them mention journalists specifically.
Ramos’ protests against journalists appeared to begin in 2011.
Tom Marquadt, the Gazette’s publisher and editor in 2012 told the LA Times that he knew of Ramos and considered him a threat.
“I said during that time, ‘this guy is crazy enough to come in and blow us all away,” Marquadt said, adding that if the killer turned out to be Ramos, he would feel responsible. “I pray it’s not him.”
As the shooting unfolded, the staff of the Gazette reported on it in real time.
Phil Davis, a reporter with the Capital Gazette, tweeted that a gunman “shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.” The shooter reportedly used a shotgun and smoke grenades during the attack.
But on Friday, the remaining staff of the Gazette had written up a full report memorializing the five victims and expressing their deep grief. Only the opinion page was left blank for the day, with the staff writing “today we are speechless.”
In a tweet on Thursday evening, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders wrote: “Strongly condemn the evil act of senseless violence in Annapolis MD.”
She continued: “A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American. Our prayers are with the victims and their friends and families. “
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