Washington, June 29 (IANS) Five people were killed and two others injured when a man armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades shot through a glass door into the newsroom of a newspaper in the US state of Maryland in a targeted shooting, police said.
Jarrod Warren Ramos, the 38-year-old suspect was taken into custody after the attack at the Capital Gazette newspaper’s office in Annapolis on Thursday and was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, according to court records.
The attack has been deemed as the deadliest day for journalism in America in several years. Ramos is scheduled to have a bail hearing on Friday. He had a long history of conflict with the daily, the US media reported.
Ramos lost a defamation case against the paper in 2015 over a 2011 column he contended defamed him. The column provided an account of Ramos’s guilty plea to criminal harassment of a woman over social media.
Police, who arrived at the scene within a minute of the reported gunfire, apprehended the gunman who was hiding under a desk in the newsroom, according to the top official in Anne Arundel County, where the attack occurred.
The five who were killed were Capital Gazette employees: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, 56, a staff writer; Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant and Wendi Winters, 65, who worked in special publications.
Fischman and Hiaasen were editors, McNamara was a reporter, Smith was a sales assistant and Winters worked for special publications, according to the newspaper’s website.
Four of the victims died on the spot while the fifth was pronounced dead at the University of Maryland Medical Centre.
The shooting began at about 3 p.m. in the office building as Ramos entered the building with a shotgun and looked for his victims, the police said. After his arrest, Ramos refused to cooperate with the authorities or provide his name.
He was identified using facial recognition technology, a law enforcement official told the New York Times.
The newspaper, which was reeling from the attack, defiantly tweeted late on Thursday: “Yes, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”
It tweeted the front page of its Friday edition as well as obituaries for their colleagues.
The opinion page was left mostly blank with a brief message: “Today, we are speechless. This page is intentionally left blank today to commemorate victims of shooting at our office.” It listed the five people’s names.
The Capital Gazette, which has an editorial staff of 31 people, had a daily circulation of about 29,000 and a Sunday circulation of 34,000 as of 2014.
Commonly referred to as the Capital, the paper was founded in 1884 as the Evening Gazette.
The paper promotes itself as one of the oldest publishers in the country, with roots dating to the Maryland Gazette in 1727.