Intent on launching what police described as “a targeted attack” on the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, a man armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades came into the newsroom today, shooting and killing five people who worked there.
While the afternoon attack was still in progress, an intern was on social media calling out for help.
“Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us,” Anthony Messenger tweeted at 2:43 p.m., publicizing the address of the newspaper.
Capital Gazette reporter Phil Jackson, meanwhile, not long after witnessing the shooting of colleagues, provided a chilling first-hand account.
“Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees,” he tweeted from his @PhilDavis_CG account.
“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” Davis tweeted.
(He later explained that that he had not been under the desk at the time the tweet was sent, but rather in another location, waiting to be interviewed by police.)
As the world watched the country’s latest mass shooting, this time in a newspaper office building, Capital Gazette reporters mustered their resources and began to cover the story.
“I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow,” reporter Chase Cook tweeted.
Journalist colleagues from across the region responded with condolences and encouragement.
“You have to admire the attitude of The Capital reporters writing the story of a massacre in their own newsroom,” tweeted Erin Cox, statehouse reporter for the Baltimore Sun, which owns the Gazette.
Long Dispute with Paper
Anne Arundel County Police responded and took the shooter into custody, according to deputy chief William Krampf, in a televised media briefing.
Two other people received non-life-threatening injuries, Krampf said.
Krampf described the shooter as a man in his late 30s from Maryland and said he had threatened the paper on social media.
Multiple media outlets, citing sources, identified him as Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, of Laurel and said he had a longstanding dispute with the newspaper, including a 2012 defamation suit.
After contacting family members, police released the names of the dead:
Editor Rob Hiaasen, (the brother of writer Carl Hiaasen and a former Baltimore Sun feature writer), editorial writer Glen Fischman, reporter and editor John McNamara, community reporter Wendi Winters and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.
“I cannot believe he is gone”
Reporter Cook said online he was devastated by the loss of his colleagues and spoke about Hiaasen.
“He called me this morning asking about a headline clarification. He was an amazing editor who made me a better reporter,” Cook wrote, speaking of Hiaasen. “I cannot believe he is gone.”
Cook used his Twitter account to acknowledge condolences from people and to thank Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh for kind words following the attack.
“Our community was shaken by tragedy today,” Schuh wrote. The Capital and the Maryland Gazette are institutions that have served us well for so many years,” Schuh wrote.
“Thanks, Steve,” Cook replied.
And then he got back to work.
“Police saying 117 were evacuated. I reported 170 earlier. Will confirm.”