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Maryland newsroom shooter barricaded exit so people couldn't escape

Jarrod Warren Ramos was charged today with five counts of first-degree murder.

Police secure the scene of a shooting at an office building housing The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis
Police secure the scene of a shooting at an office building housing The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis
Image: Susan Walsh via AP

Updated Jun 29th 2018, 5:15 PM

A PROSECUTOR SAYS the shooter who opened fire at the office of Maryland newspaper yesterday barricaded the exit door so employees couldn’t escape.

Wes Adams said this afternoon that there were two entrances to the office. He says the suspect, Jarrod Warren Ramos, entered through the front door and “worked his way through the office.”

Adams also says one victim who attempted to escape through the back door was shot.

A judge ordered Ramos to remain detained during a court hearing this afternoon. Judge Thomas Pryal said he found a likelihood that the 38-year-old Ramos is a danger.

Ramos appeared in an Annapolis courtroom via video feed. He appeared to watch attentively during the hearing but never spoke. He was dressed in blue detention clothing.

He is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the killings inside the office of the Capital Gazette newspaper yesterday.

Police say he had a long, acrimonious history with the newspaper, including a lawsuit and years of harassment of its journalists on Twitter.

Tom Marquardt, retired publisher and top editor at the paper, told The Capital Gazette yesterday 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’.”

Lawsuit

Ramos filed a failed lawsuit against the paper in 2012, alleging the newspaper, a columnist and an editor defamed him in an article about his conviction in a criminal harassment case in 2011.

According to court documents, five days after Ramos pleaded guilty to criminal harassment, the newspaper published a story describing allegations by a woman who claimed Ramos harassed her online for months.

The article said Ramos had contacted the woman on Facebook and thanked her “for being the only person ever to say, ‘Hello’, or be nice to him in school”.

The woman told the newspaper that Ramos appeared to be having some problems, so she wrote back and tried to help, suggesting a counselling centre.

She said that set off months of emails in which Ramos sometimes asked for help, but other times called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself.

She told The Capital that she told him to stop, but the emails continued. She said she called police and the emails stopped for months, but then started up again “nastier than ever”, the article said.

Annapolis Shooting The scene outside the building where the gunman opened fire in Annapolis yesterday Source: Susan Walsh via AP

In his lawsuit, Ramos said the article contained false and defamatory statements and injured his reputation.

A judge dismissed the suit after asking Ramos to point out a single statement in the article that was false or to give a single example of how it had harmed him.

“He could not do so,” an appeals court wrote in upholding the dismissal.

Suspect description

In the article, Ramos was described as a tall, thin man with long hair worn in a ponytail.

His lawyer told the newspaper that Ramos has a degree in computer engineering and had worked for the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for six years. His lawyer also said Ramos had no previous criminal record.

Ramos took to Twitter, where he routinely harassed journalists from the newspaper in scores of profanity-laced tweets. One of those tweets targeted one of the journalists killed yesterday, 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”.

James Wolfe A police officer pulls crime scene tape into place near a residence connected to a suspect who opened fire on the newspaper office Source: Patrick Semansky via AP

Online court records in Maryland show that three peace orders were taken out against Ramos – one each in 2011, 2012 and 2013. A judge can issue such protection, ordering someone to stay away from someone else and to avoid contacting them. In at least two instances, Ramos appealed the orders. It wasn’t clear whom the cases involved or what the ultimate outcomes were.

Then, in 2013, Ramos sued Anne Arundel County District Judge John McKenna. Online court records did not indicate the nature or result of that suit.

Ramos filed another lawsuit in 2014 against three defendants. A judge in Prince George’s dismissed that case two years later when Ramos failed to show up for court.

Comments are closed as a person has been charged. 

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