5 charges of murder in Capital Gazette shooting; gunman ‘targeted’ news outlet, police say

The Maryland man accused of killing five Capital Gazette employees Thursday afternoon in Annapolis has been charged with five counts of murder. Police released the names of the victims Thursday night.

WASHINGTON — The Maryland man accused of killing five Capital Gazette employees Thursday afternoon in Annapolis has been charged with five counts of murder. Police released the names of the victims Thursday night.

Jarrod W. Ramos has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, according to court records. Online records indicate he is due in court at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” Acting Anne Arundel County Police Chief William Krampf said at an 8 p.m. news conference, hours after police first received reports of multiple gunshots fired.

Anne Arundel County police then released the names of the five people killed in the shooting. They were all Capital Gazette employees: Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.

The Capital Gazette released more information about the victims on their website: Winters, 65, was described as a “prolific and dependable writer“; Smith, 34, was a sales assistant who was also a recent hire; Hiaasen, 59, was an assistant editor and columnist; Fischman, 61, was an editor and “great writer“; and McNamara, 56, known as “Mac,” was a reporter.

Krampf did not confirm the identity of the suspected shooter Thursday night. The suspect, who is in custody, is a Maryland resident in his late 30s. Krampf did not specify where exactly in Maryland the man lives.

The gunman entered the first floor of the building at 888 Bestgate Road with a shotgun, Krampf said.

“He looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level,” Krampf said, but did not say whether the man was targeting specific people at the news outlet.

Two others were injured, but Krampf said their injuries were “superficial,” likely from shattered glass from the shotgun blast.

Earlier, Krampf said that there may have been what authorities thought was an explosive device. Krampf later said that the device was actually canisters of smoke grenades that the suspect used inside of the building.

“This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm,” Krampf said.

He added that police are investigating exactly what problem the suspect had with the Capital Gazette, but could not say any specific threats the man may have made toward the news outlet. Krampf said they were general threats to the Capital Gazette and that they indicated violence.

Police worked on securing the man’s home, Krampf said.

The suspected shooter is being interrogated, Anne Arundel County police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said at a press conference shortly after 5:30 p.m.

Investigators are at the scene, Krampf said, “so they can start the process of identifying what occurred, and how it occurred and why it occurred.”

Around 3:20 p.m. Thursday, Anne Arundel County police first confirmed the presence of an active shooter at the Bestgate Road building, which contains the Capital Gazette newspaper and several other businesses.

Police first received a report of multiple gunshots fired and possible injuries at 2:34 p.m., Marc Limansky, the department’s public information officer, told NBC Washington in an interview.

There was no gunfire exchange between officers and the suspect, authorities said.

Around 170 people were escorted out of the building safely and taken to a reunification area at the nearby mall, Krampf added. Police worked for more than an hour to evacuate and clear the building.

Tom Marquardt, a former Capital Gazette editor, told ABC News that staff at the news outlet had dealt with threats in the past, though most of them were anonymous. Security had always been a concern, Marquardt said.

Bestgate Road is now reopened, Krampf said, but the building at 888 Bestgate Road is still closed as the investigation continues.

Krampf later said, “We know through the investigation that there are no further threats to the Capital Gazette newspaper or to the area around 888 Bestgate Road.”

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh called the shooting a “terrible tragedy.” But, he thanked law enforcement officials for their quick response.

At an earlier news conference, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said, “It’s a tragic situation. We don’t have all the information yet and we can’t give all the information yet, because it’s an active crime scene and investigation.”

Hogan first tweeted that he was “absolutely devastated” to learn about the shooting in Annapolis.

Then, in a tweeted statement shortly before 7 p.m., Hogan said, “The Capital Gazette is my hometown paper, and I have the greatest respect for the fine journalists, and all the men and women, who work there. They serve each day to shine light on the world around us so that we might see with more clarity and greater understanding.”

Minutes after police had confirmed the shooting, Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis had tweeted the gunman “shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.”

The shooting brought a large police presence to the area, including the Westfield Annapolis Mall. People with loved ones who worked in the building could reunite with them at the Lord and Taylor at the nearby mall, authorities said.

The Capital Gazette shooting sparked police responses to newsrooms in other parts of the country.

Police in Los Angeles said although there weren’t direct threats to news outlets at the time, they were taking precautions. Police in New York City also took precautions, not from specific threats but from “an abundance of caution.”

Below is a map with the location near the shooting in Annapolis:

The Associated Press, ABC News, and WTOP’s Michelle Basch and Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

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