A man armed with a shot gun and smoke grenades attacked the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland Thursday, killing five of the paper’s employees and injuring several more.
The suspect, described by police as a white male in his late 30s, was taken into custody and was being questioned Thursday evening. Police have not officially released the suspect’s identity but a law enforcement official identified him as Jarrod W. Ramos, the Associated Press reports.
“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” acting Anne Arundel County Police Chief William Krampf. “He looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level.”
Police arrived at the scene within about 60 seconds of the shooting, police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure told reporters, and took the suspect into custody without an exchange of gunfire. More than 170 people had been inside the building at the time of the shooting, according to police.
Here’s what we know about the suspected shooter:
Who was the suspected gunman?
While police have not publicly released the name of the suspected gunman, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press that he was identified as Jarrod W. Ramos. According to the Baltimore Sun, Ramos is a 38-year-old resident of Laurel, Maryland who harbored a long-standing grudge against the paper.
Laurel is about 30 minutes away from the Annapolis Capital offices that house the Capital, the Baltimore Sun reports. Law enforcement agents reportedly gathered outside Ramos’ residence Thursday.
In a 2011 story, the Capital identified Ramos as an employee of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with a degree in computer engineering and no previous criminal record.
The suspect’s motives are not known at this stage, but police believe that the suspect deliberately targeted the Capital Gazette, with Krampf saying the shooter “looked for his victims” in the newspaper’s offices.
“The shooter has not been very forthcoming, so we don’t have any information yet on motive,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said Thursday, according to AP.
The suspect had defaced his fingers in what investigators speculated could have been an effort to mask his identification, according to AP. Another anonymous official said the suspect was identified with the help of facial recognition software.
He had a bitter history with the paper
Ramos reportedly held a long-standing grudge against the Capital Gazette, according to the Sun. In 2012, he filed a defamation lawsuit against then-columnist Eric Hartley, Capital Gazette Communications, and the paper’s former editor and publisher Thomas Marquardt.
The complaint centered on a July 2011 story that covered a criminal harassment case against Ramos, who had reportedly been tormenting a former high school classmate with whom he had tried to reconnect with online. Ramos ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge in the case, which the woman described as a “yearlong nightmare.” The paper reported at the time that Ramos sent multiple messages to the woman, asking for her help and then calling her vulgar names and telling her to kill herself.
The defamation suit against the Capital was dismissed in 2015.
Marquardt said that Ramos had hounded the paper and its employees with online threats for years. “I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence,” Marquardt told the Sun. “I remember telling our attorneys, ‘This is a guy who is going to come in and shoot us,’ ” he said.
He has been described as ‘a loner’
Ramos’ aunt, Vielka Ramos, 59, expressed disbelief over the attack and described her nephew, who grew up in nearby Severn, Maryland, as “very intelligent” but “a loner” who “wasn’t close to anybody,” the Sun reports.
“He was very intelligent. He would try to communicate with people but he was a loner,” she said.
According to the Sun, Ramos stopped attending family functions after his grandmother died several years ago.