Multiple People Shot at Annapolis Newspaper, Police Deem Shooting a "Targeted Attack"

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Anne Arundel County Acting Police Chief William Krampf said "general threats" had been by Jarrod W. Ramos against the newspaper on social media prior to the shooting.

A gunman, identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, opened fire at a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday, killing five people and gravely wounding a number of others before being taken into custody in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history, police and witnesses said.

Police said the suspect's rampage at The Capital Gazette followed social media threats directed at the newspaper, deeming the shooting as a "targeted attack on The Capital Gazette." Authorities said the man entered the building and "looked for his victims." He threw smoke grenades and fired a shotgun at his victims, according to Anne Arundel County Acting Police Chief William Krampf.

"This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm," Krampf said.

The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity to share details.

Phil Davis, a reporter who covers courts and crime for the paper, tweeted that the gunman shot out the glass door to the office and fired into the newsroom, sending people scrambling for cover under desks. 

"A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead," he wrote.

Added Davis: "There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload."

The New York Police Department immediately deployed counterterrorism teams to news organizations around the city in a move police said was prompted not by any specific threat but was instead done as a precaution. Police could be seen outside The New York Times, ABC News and Fox News early in the evening.

In Maryland, police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers raced to the scene, arriving in 60 seconds, and engaged the shooter. At least two patients were taken to a nearby hospital; their condition was not immediately released.

People could be seen leaving the newspaper building with their hands up as police cars and other emergency vehicles converged on the scene.

Anne Arundel County executive Steve Schuh says the suspect "has not been very forthcoming" with information. Schuh adds: "To my knowledge, there was no verbal aspect to the incident where he declared his motives or anything else, so at this point we just don't know."

A law enforcement official says the suspect mutilated his fingers in what investigators think was an effort to prevent him from being easily identified with a fingerprint match. The suspect was ultimately identified using facial recognition technology.

In an interview with the Capital Gazette's online site, Davis said it "was like a war zone" inside the newspaper's offices — a situation that would be "hard to describe for a while."

"I'm a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time," he said. "But as much as I'm going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don't know until you're there and you feel helpless."

Davis told the paper he and others were still hiding under their desks when the shooter stopped firing.

"I don't know why. I don't know why he stopped," he said. 

A GoFundMe account set up for the newspaper has raised more than $20,000 within just three hours. The account was set up by a fellow journalist, Bloomberg Government reporter Madi Alexander. By 8 p.m., the total amount in donations had reached more than half the $30,000 goal.

The GoFundMe page posting urged people to give what they can to help the newspaper's journalists pay for medical bills, funeral costs, newsroom repairs and other expenses.

The Society of Professional Journalists, which promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens, said in a statement from president Rebecca Baker: "SPJ is deeply saddened by the reports from Annapolis, Maryland, that a shooter entered the Annapolis Capital Gazette building and shot several people. Our hearts go out to the victims and their family, friends and colleagues. We are ready to help in any way we can."

SAG-AFTRA offered their condolences to the victims and families of the tragic shooting. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter they said, "SAG-AFTRA is deeply saddened by the news of the shooting at the Annapolis Capital Gazette newspaper, and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families. As a union that counts journalists among its members, we stand with our colleagues at the Capital Gazette. We remain concerned that journalists are increasingly operating under the threat of violence and intimidation, and SAG-AFTRA will continue to work with employers to ensure safe workplaces across the country."

The newspaper is part of Capital Gazette Communications, which also publishes the Maryland Gazette and CapitalGazette.com.