Annapolis, Maryland Newspaper Shooting

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

5 Dead In Shooting At Newspaper Office In Annapolis, Maryland

June 28, 2018 - 3:26 pm
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WCBS 880/CBS News/AP) -- Five people are dead, and several others injured, in a shooting at a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland Thursday afternoon.

A suspect was in custody and being interrogated late Thursday.

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The shooting happened at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper, at 888 Bestgate Rd. in Annapolis. Other businesses are also based in the building.

The first shots were reported at 2:40 p.m. after the shooter entered the building, which also houses other businesses, CBS Baltimore reports. 

William Krampf, acting chief of police for Anne Arundel County, confirmed five dead at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

“Those fatalities are so sad, and I don’t know what to say other than our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and we take comfort knowing they’re in God’s embrace,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh.

Krampf said later Thursday evening that others were injured in the shooting. Those victims' injuries were described as superficial and might have been caused by glass that was shattered by the gunfire.

The Anne Arundel Medical Center, which is nearby the shooting scene, said staff there are treating two people with minor injuries, neither from a gunshot.

Police say the gunman is a white male in his late 30s, and the weapon he used was a shotgun. CBS News reported Thursday evening that the suspect was identified as Jarrod Ramos.

He entered the building with the shotgun and looked for victims on the lower level, Krampf said.

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

Sources said the suspect refused to identify himself and was not carrying any identification. Krampf said the suspect is a Maryland resident.

Police late Thursday said he had a previous interaction with the newspaper.

CBS News has also learned the suspect even damaged his own fingertips so law enforcement could not identify him. But investigators did identify him through facial recognition, CBS Baltimore reported.

The gunman's identity had not been released Thursday evening.

A senior source in federal law enforcement also told CBS News that the suspect had fake grenades. Schuh said the gunman was being interrogated late Thursday afternoon.

“Right now, our sources have said there does not appear to be any connection to terrorism. But they’re looking at various issues, whether it was emotionally disturbed, whether he had an issue with the newspaper for some reason, or whether, you know, possibly workplace,” CBS News Investigative Producer Pat Milton told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott. “It’s unclear.”

Police responded to the scene in 60 seconds and arrested the gunman, authorities said. Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley commended first responders for getting to the scene so quickly.

“If they were not there as quickly as they did, it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called it a "tragic situation."

Authorities said the building was clear from a tactical standpoint by the late afternoon.

Krampf said officials discovered what they thought was an explosive device in the building, but it turned out to be canisters of smoke grenades that he used when he entered.

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Krampf said there had been threats sent to the newspaper through social media, though police had not confirmed who actually sent them. He said to his knowledge, his threats were as early as Thursday.

Anthony Messenger, an intern with the Capital Gazette, issued a chilling tweet.

Capital Gazette courts and crime reporter Phil Davis issued tweets about what he saw. He said a gunman fired through a glass door at multiple employees.

In an interview with The Capital Gazette's website, 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.

Capital Gazette Metro Editor Jimmy DeButts also released a statement.

Helicopter video broadcast by CBSN showed multiple police units at the scene, and people being led out of the building by police with hands up. About 170 people in all were evacuated from the building following the shooting.

The Capital Gazette is owned by the Baltimore Sun. Police were also sent to the Baltimore Sun offices Thursday afternoon.

Capital Gazette Communications' staff includes three people on the executive staff as well as seven editors, according to CapitalGazette.com. Eight staff writers cover topics including courts, entertainment and education.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says President Trump has been briefed on the shooting and "our thoughts and prayers are with all that are affected."

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) said action needs to be taken to prevent violence.

“This should not be happening in our communities. We’ve all go to toc me together,” he said. “There’s too much violence here in America.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement late Thursday, saying the fact that the shooting happened at a newspaper office was “profoundly concerning.”

“The freedom of the press is a sacred American principle, and in today's divisive political climate it is more important and essential than ever. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I stand with the Capital Gazette and the people of Annapolis against violence and hate,” Cuomo wrote.

Cuomo also went on to say something needs to be done about gun violence.

"Americans across the country - young and old, black and white and brown, Democrat and Republican - have said 'enough is enough.' The only people who don't seem to get the message is the NRA and their subsidiaries in Congress and in the White House,” he wrote. "I mourn for the victims of the Capital Gazette shooting and their loves ones. What will it finally take for Washington to act?"

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) also called for gun legislation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a tweet mourning the victims of the shooting.

The NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau said it was closely monitoring the situation.

“The NYPD has deployed counterterrorism teams to media organizations in and around New York City,” Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism and Intelligence John Miller said in a statement. “These deployments are not based on specific threat information, but rather out of an abundance of caution until we learn more about the suspect and motives behind the Maryland shooting. It has become a standard practice to shift resources strategically during active shooter or terrorist events.”

Police in Chicago have also been dispatched to the offices of major media organizations, CBS News reported.

The Chicago Police Department said in a statement, "We are in real time communication with the FBI and Annapolis Police on the Maryland incident." It advised Chicago media outlets that "you can expect to get a visit from a CPD tactical team officer to talk with your station security teams."

(© 2018 WCBS 880. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)