ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Reuters) – A man was charged with murder on Friday, local media in Maryland said, after a gunman carried out a rampage through a newsroom in Annapolis, with a shotgun, killing five people in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.
Jarrod Ramos, 38, from Laurel, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Annapolis, faces five counts of first degree murder in Anne Arundel County criminal court where a bail hearing is expected to be held for him on Friday morning, The Capital Gazette newspaper group reported on its website.
Police had not released the name of the suspect, but online court records showed a man by the same name was charged with five counts of murder on Friday.
Ramos is accused of entering the Capital Gazette newspaper group on Thursday afternoon and opened fire through a glass door, looked for victims and then sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, police and a witness said.
Rob Hiaasen, 59, Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara were shot and killed, the acting police chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, William Krampf, told a news conference.
All were journalists except Smith who was a sales assistant, he said.
The Annapolis newspaper The Capital, part of the Gazette group, published an edition on Friday with photographs of each of the victims along with “5 shot dead at The Capital” as a headline in large bold lettering on its front page.
Ramos had brought a defamation lawsuit in 2012 against Eric Hartley, formerly a staff writer and columnist with Capital Gazette, and Thomas Marquardt, then its editor and publisher, according to a court filing.
According to a legal document, an article contended that Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment.
The court agreed that the contents of the article were accurate and based on public records, the document showed, and in 2015, Maryland’s second-highest court upheld the ruling rejecting Ramos’s suit.
Ramos tweeted that he had set up a Twitter account to defend himself, and wrote in his biographical notes that he was suing people in Anne Arundel County and “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”
Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter, said he had been hiding under his desk along with other newspaper employees when the shooter stopped firing, the Capital Gazette reported on its website.
The newsroom looked “like a war zone,” he told the Baltimore Sun.
Capital Gazette runs several newspapers out of its Annapolis office. They include one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, The Gazette, which traces its origins back to 1727.
Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Richard Balmforth