Annapolis shooting: Vigil for Capital newspaper victims

Clay Curtis
July 1, 2018

Officials say Ramos, 38, of Laurel, fired a shotgun through the glass doors of the paper's newsroom and then turned the weapon on his victims, carrying out what appears to be the deadliest attack on journalists in the United States in decades.

Prosecutors said Ramos barricaded a back door to prevent people from fleeing.

Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Wes Adams said Ramos' actions, including barricading a back door so that people could not escape and his "tactical approach of hunting down and shooting the innocent victims", was evidence of a coordinated attack.

The shooting hit especially close to home for Mike Driscoll, who worked at the Capital Gazette in the administrative department and as a freelancer.

The three men and two women who died in the shootings were the sort of quirky and talented people you'd expect to find at a newspaper, as the Capital Gazette's stories Friday on Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Rob Hiaasen, and Rebecca Smith show. It noted that Hiaasen was the brother of Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald columnist and best-selling author. President Donald Trump called the attack a "horrific" and "horrible" event and pledged to "reduce violent crime" in the country.

President Donald Trump addressed the shooting Friday, calling it a "horrific, disgusting thing" that "shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief".

"Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs", he said.

An article about the case was published in the Capital Gazette five days later, written by then-staffer Eric Thomas Hartley. In 2012, when the newspaper argued to have the case tossed out, Ramos referred to his complaint as "a blob of facts - fed and grown on their own sins - and they have stepped right in it, to be eaten alive".

Images showed them working from laptops on a truck as they continued to put the paper together.

The mayor of Annapolis, Gavin Buckley, addressed public views of the press after the attack on Thursday. "He wrote a lot of warm pieces", Altomare said, emphasizing that "all of them were consummate professionals". "He loved journalism, he loved helping those young writers at the Gazette". "And they got a newspaper out today", Buckley told Fox News.

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On Friday night, Annapolis honored the victims.

Neither Hartley, who is no longer with the paper, nor Marquardt were present in the newsroom Thursday afternoon when Ramos blasted through the office with a shotgun.

He had been investigated five years ago for a barrage of tweets against the paper after it ran an article about him pleading guilty to harassing a woman.

A judge placed Ramos on 18 months of supervised probation and ordered him to continue therapy and refrain from any further contact with the woman or her family, the court documents show. A judge dismissed the case, so he appealed to a higher court, and was again rebuffed.

A Twitter account in Ramos's name directed abuse at the newspaper and the local judiciary.

Ramos launched so many social media attacks that retired publisher Tom Marquardt said he told his wife in 2013: "This guy could really hurt us".

"She said 'Uncle Steven, I'm scared.' What do you tell a 12-year-old kid?

He has not attempted to enter the Capital Newspaper building or sent direct threatening correspondence". "I want your prayers but I want something else", San Felice said. "I also remembered what one of the Parkland victims said, that she figured it would come to them. I do think some people change, some for the better and some for the worse".

Authorities responded to the scene within a minute of the shooting, and Ramos was arrested while hiding under a desk, the shotgun on the floor nearby, police said.

Ramos' grudge against the paper resembled a war of sorts, court documents suggest.

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