The suspect in Thursday’s deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette, a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, apparently had a longstanding grudge against the paper.
Jarrod Ramos, 38, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder for allegedly walking into the newsroom of the paper and shooting five people - writers, a columnist and a sales assistant - to death.
He apparently had an ongoing feud with the Capital Gazette. Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit against the community paper over a July 2011 article that covered a criminal harassment charge against Ramos, the Baltimore Sun reported. Ramos, who had worked for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, allegedly stalked and harassed a high school classmate in 2009 and 2010, which was detailed in the article, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Ramos pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge stemming from that incident in 2011.
He attempted to sue then-columnist Eric Hartley, who wrote the story for the Gazette. Hartley now works as an editor for the Virginian-Pilot. Ramos’ Twitter account, which has been suspended since the shooting, featured a photo of Hartley as the avatar. He even included Hartley’s name in his Twitter handle: @EricHartleyFrnd. The account targeted Hartley and his colleagues, and even threatened them.
Thomas Marquardt was the paper’s former editor and publisher, and he was also named as a defendant in Ramos’ lawsuit.
“I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence,” Marquardt, who is now retired, told The Baltimore Sun. “I even told my wife, ‘We have to be concerned. This guy could really hurt us.’ ”
He said he called the police about Ramos in 2013 and even considered filing a restraining order against him.
“I remember telling our attorneys, 'This is a guy who is going to come in and shoot us,’ ” he said.
Although he seemed to be obsessed with Hartley, Ramos frequently tweeted disparaging comments about the Capital Gazette in general.
“Dear reader: I created this page to defend myself. Now I'm suing the s--- out of half of AA County and making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities,” the Twitter bio read.
Several tweets referred to the deadly shooting at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in 2015.
When police arrived at the newsroom on Thursday, Ramos was found hiding under a desk. He didn’t have any identification on him. He even damaged the tips of his fingers, an attempt to make his fingerprints unidentifiable, a law enforcement official told CBS News. Police needed to use facial recognition and a database of identifications to identify Ramos, who was reportedly uncooperative. The mugshot in this story is from a 2013 arrest.
A bail review hearing for Ramos is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday.
[Photo: Anne Arundel Police Department]