Maryland Suspect Denied Bail on Newspaper Murders

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CN) — A judge denied bail Friday to the 38-year-old Maryland man charged with murdering five the afternoon before at the Annapolis newsroom of the The Capital Gazette.

Anne Arundel Police released this photo of Jarrod Warren Ramos on June 28, 2018. First-degree murder charges were filed Friday against Ramos who police said targeted Maryland’s capital newspaper, shooting his way into the newsroom and killing four journalists and a staffer before officers arrested him. (Anne Arundel Police via AP)

Jarrod Warren Ramos, of Laurel, appeared via video at the hearing before Judge Thomas Pryal in Anne Arundel County District Court. Though he appeared to watch the proceedings attentively, he never spoke, and public defenders declined to issue a comment outside court.

State’s Attorney Wes Adams told the court that the attack had been planned carefully, with Ramos barricading the back door so victims couldn’t escape.

Surveillance video shows that the attack began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance to the open newsroom. As journalists crawled under desks for safety, Adams said Ramos used “a tactical approach in hunting down and shooting the innocent people.”

Police responded in about 60 seconds, saying that they found Ramos seeking refuge under a desk just as the journalists had a minute earlier.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” Acting Chief William Krampf of the Anne Arundel County Police Department said.

Anne Arundel County Chief Timothy Altomare noted that the weapon police recovered from the scene was a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun that had been purchased legally. Ramos reportedly had smoke grenades on him as well.

Opting not to use the suspect’s name, Altomare noted that facial-recognition technology helped them identify the “bad guy.”

Back in 2012, Ramos had sued the newspaper in Prince George’s County Circuit Court over an article it had published the year before on his guilty plea to a misdemeanor harassment charge.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld dismissal of the pro se case in 2015. “A lawyer would almost certainly have told him not to proceed with this case,” Judge Charles E. Moylan Jr. wrote for a three-judge panel. “It reveals a fundamental failure to understand what defamation law is and, more particularly, what defamation law is not.”

Back in 2011, the Gazette sparked Ramos’ ire by reporting on his admitted harassment of a woman he targeted on Facebook.

The article from reporter Eric Thomas Hartley notes that the woman initially suggested a counseling center to Ramos when she realized his claim about knowing her in high school was a ruse.

“That sparked months of emails in which Ramos alternately asked for help, called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself. He emailed her company and tried to get her fired.

“She stopped writing back and told him to stop, but he continued. When she blocked him from seeing her Facebook page, he found things she wrote on other people’s pages and taunted her with it, attaching screenshots of the postings to some of his emails.

“She called police, and for months he stopped. But then he started again, nastier than ever.

“All this without having seen her in person since high school. They never met until they came to court a couple of months ago.”

The victims from Thursday’s shooting included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper’s assistant managing editor.

Carl Hiaasen, a novelist who was Hiassen’s brother, said he was “devastated and heartsick,” calling his brother “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.”

Also slain were Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; features reporter Wendi Winters; reporter John McNamara, and sales assistant Rebecca Smith. Two more employees were treated for injuries that were not life threatening.

Crime-scene tape surrounds a building housing the newspaper’s offices of The Capital Gazette on June 29, 2018, in Annapolis, Md. A man armed with smoke grenades and a shotgun attacked journalists in the building Thursday, killing several people before police quickly stormed the building and arrested him. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“Devastated & heartbroken,” Gazette Editor Jimmy DeButts tweeted at 2 p.m., as police evacuated the building of 170 people, escorting them to a nearby Lord & Taylor department store. “Numb. Please stop asking for information/interviews. I’m in no position to speak, just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day.”

This morning the newspaper followed through on its pledge to publish a Friday edition.

The Associated Press quoted a court document classifying Ramos as “recalcitrant,” and investigators called the suspect uncooperative.

Investigators reportedly are searching Ramos’ home and social media accounts for clues.

After losing his court battle with the Gazette, according to the AP, Ramos took to Twitter to continue harassing the newspaper.

“One said he’d enjoy seeing the paper stop publishing, but ‘it would be nicer’ to see two journalists ‘cease breathing,’” the AP said.

Retired publisher Tom Marquardt reportedly called police out of concern about Ramos’ threats in 2013. “This guy could really hurt us,” he recalled telling his wife at the time.

New York City police immediately tightened security at news organizations in the nation’s media capital as some worried that the shooting was inspired by escalating attacks on the “fake news media” from President Donald Trump and lower-ranking politicians.

The president tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders.”

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders added in a tweet: “Strongly condemn the evil act of senseless violence in Annapolis, MD. 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.”

Annapolis will hold a vigil for the victims Friday night at a public square near the Capitol, followed by a march to a dock for a service by the water across the street from the Gazette newsroom. There will also be a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. Friday.

Capital Gazette Communications is owned by The Baltimore Sun.

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