ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Five employees of the Capital Gazette were killed in a mass shooting at the newspaper's office building Thursday afternoon in Annapolis in a "targeted attack".
At 2:33 p.m. police said 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos walked into the building at 888 Bestgate Road armed with a "pump action" shotgun.
"He looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level," Anne Arundel County Acting Police Chief William Krampf. said.
Ramos then barricaded the back door to prevent victims from escaping and then shot people trying to get out.
At 2:37 p.m., just four minutes after the shooting began Ramos tweeted, "F---- you, leave me alone."
Within 60 seconds, police responded and evacuated 170 people from the building.
Officers found Ramos hiding under a desk in an attempt to hide from authorities, court documents show.
He was taken into custody without an exchange of gunfire, according to Anne Arundel County Police.
Five people were killed in Thursday's attack. All of them were employees at the Capital Gazette. Their names are:
- Columnist Rob Hiaasen
- Editorial Editor Gerald Fischman
- Publications Editor Wendi Winters
- Sales Assistant Rebecca Smith
- Reporter John McNamara
Rachel Pacella and Janet Colley, also employees at the Gazette, were admitted to and released from the Anne Arundel Medical Center, according to the hospital. Both were injured at the scene with "superficial" injuries, possibly by glass, but not by gunfire.
Anne Arundel County Police searched the building. They did not find any explosive devices, as previously thought. They did, however, find canisters of smoke grenades, which they believe the suspect used as he entered the building.
Police cleared the building by 8 p.m. Thursday.
"This person was prepared today to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm," acting police chief Krampf said.
Ramos, who was not cooperating with police, was identified using facial recognition technology.
A U.S. official said that he had damaged his fingerprints in what investigators believe was an attempt to prevent them from quickly identifying him. However, Anne Arundel police said that is absolutely not true. They said his fingertips were not mutilated, but there was a lag in the use of his fingerprints in getting his identification.
Ramos faces a possible life sentence without parole. He is being held without bond.
"He is an extreme danger to the community," Anne Arundel State's Attorney Wes Adams said.
According to police, Ramos sent threats to the Capital Gazette over social media indicating violence. Court documents show that he 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."
Phil Davis, a reporter at the Capital Gazette hid under a desk during the shooting and described the harrowing account on Twitter shortly after.
He added that the "gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees."
“I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time,” Davis said in an interview with The Capital Gazette. “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.”
Editor for the Capital Gazette, Jimmy DeButts, said he is devastated and heartbroken.
Governor Larry Hogan said the police response was incredible and possibly saved lives. He also tweeted that he is praying for those involved.
President Donald Trump also took to Twitter thanking all of the first responders.
Capital Gazette Communications LLC, the Capital Gazette’s publisher, is one of the oldest publishers in the country, according to the Capital Gazette website. They have occupied the space at 888 Bestgate Rd. in Annapolis since 2014.
According to St. John Properties, the office building did not have a front desk, and was a "typical office."
"This is going to be a long investigation," Anne Arundel County Acting Police Chief William Krampf said.
If anyone has information about the shooting is asked to call the homicide unit at 410-222-4731 or the 24-hour tip line at 410-222-4770.