ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A man with a vendetta against a newspaper in Annapolis, Md., fired a shotgun through the newsroom’s glass doors and at its employees, killing five and injuring two others Thursday afternoon in a targeted shooting, according to police.

The attack appears to be the deadliest involving journalists in the United States in decades, reported The Washington Post.

According to local police, the Capital Gazette was specifically targeted. As a result, it prompting heightened security in newsrooms nationwide.

A bulletin emailed to Maryland law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Jarrod Ramos, 38. Consequently, police were searching an apartment in Laurel, Md., late Thursday that is linked to the accused killer.

Ramos was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and is expected to appear in Annapolis District Courthouse for a hearing Friday morning.

The accused gunman lost a defamation case against the paper in 2015 over a 2011 column he contended defamed him. The column provided an account of Ramos’s guilty plea to criminal harassment of a woman over social media.

Police arrived on scene of the massacre within a minute of reported gunfire. As a result, they apprehended the gunman found hiding under a desk in the newsroom, according to the top official in Anne Arundel County, where the attack occurred. Moreover, he carried canisters with smoke grenades that he used in the building, police said.

Ramos is reportedly not cooperating with investigators.

“This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people,” Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf said. “His intent was to cause harm.”

Law enforcement officials said all of the victims killed were Capital Gazette employees: Gerald Fischman, Robert Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.


Capital Gazette murder victims. (Screenshot WBALTV broadcast)

Fischman and Hiaasen were editors, McNamara was a reporter, Smith was a sales assistant and Winters worked for special publications, according to the newspaper’s website.

Although Ramos had a prior vendetta against the paper, police say his motive remains unclear. Nevertheless, police said the newsroom had recently received threats of violence through social media.

“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” Gazette reporter Phil Davis said on Twitter.

Davis described the scene as a “war zone” and a situation that would be “hard to describe for a while,” in a news story posted to the daily newspaper’s website within 45 minutes of the shooting.

Police swarmed the area about four miles west of Maryland’s statehouse while clearing people to safety.

“It appears to be the act of a lone shooter,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said. “It does not appear to be a particularly well-planned operation.”

Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin said the building where Ramos is believed to live was evacuated Thursday night.

The apartment is in a cluster of three-story brick buildings off Route 1 in Prince George’s County, about 35 minutes from the Capital Gazette office.

Police from Laurel and Anne Arundel County and federal officials were on the scene.

The Capital Gazette, Annapolis’s daily newspaper, is widely read in Maryland’s capital and in surrounding Anne Arundel County.

The paper promotes itself as one of the oldest publishers in the country, with roots dating to the Maryland Gazette in 1727.

“Devastated & heartbroken. Numb,” Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts said on Twitter. “Please stop asking for information/interviews. I’m in no position to speak, just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day. There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community.”

Ramos has worked at the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to a lawyer who represented him in 2011. However, it was unknown if he’s still employed there.

He seemed to carry a grudge for years against the newspaper after he was the subject of a column describing how he harassed a former classmate from Arundel High School, first on Facebook and then through emails. Ramos pleaded guilty in July 2011 to harassment. In a column written by Eric Hartley several days later, the woman described how Ramos had stalked her online and perhaps caused her to lose her job, according to The Washington Post.

Ramos then apparently created a website that detailed his complaints against Hartley and the newspaper.

Sgt. Amy Miguez, an Annapolis Police Department spokeswoman, said that early on Thursday she received a text message from Phil Davis and that she referred the reporter to county police. Davis had said he needed to write a story about jurisdiction lines between city and county police to help him get it straight.

At 2:41, Davis texted Miguez again and wrote: “Help. Shooting at office.”

Miguez initially thought it was a joke and again referred him to call county police, because they have jurisdiction at the Gazette offices.

Davis quickly responded that he couldn’t call and that he was trying to stay as quiet as possible.

Miguez said she immediately dialed 911 and gave the location of the paper to report the shooting.

Fears rose in the building as people heard there was a shooter.

“I was so scared,” said Rayne Foster, who works on the fourth floor. “I was very scared.”

Locked in a room with about a dozen others, Foster had sent a text to her daughter: “There’s an active shooter. I love you.”

“I was taking deep breaths,” she said. “We could hear them busting out the glass doors and windows. It was so surreal.”

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said police had conducted active-shooter training last week.

“If [law enforcement] were not there as quickly as they [were], it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “We did not expect this to happen in our community, but I don’t think we could have been any more ready.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also commended the quick police response.

“It’s a tragic situation, but there were some very brave people who came in and kept it from being worse, and the response time was incredible,” said Hogan, standing at the scene with police and local officials.

The Capital Gazette staff continued to work through tragedy Thursday, publishing a newspaper for circulation Friday morning, reported WBALTV.

The paper shared a picture of the front page:

The Capital Gazette, which has an editorial staff of 31 people, had a daily circulation of about 29,000 and a Sunday circulation of 34,000 as of 2014.

Commonly referred to as the Capital, the paper was founded in 1884 as the Evening Gazette. The Baltimore Sun Media Group — owned by Chicago-based Tronc — bought the paper in 2014 from Landmark Media Enterprises, based in Norfolk, Va. The new owners converted it from an afternoon publication into a morning paper in 2015.

The paper had previously been part-owned by Philip Merrill, who was the owner and publisher of Washingtonian magazine.

The paper traces its roots to a related paper, the twice-weekly Maryland Gazette, which was founded in 1727 in Annapolis and is one of oldest periodicals in the United States. One of the Maryland Gazette’s first publishers was a protégé of Benjamin Franklin’s. An early editor and publisher was Anne Catherine Hoof Green, one of the first women to hold such a job at an American newspaper.

“Founded by British journalist William Parks, the Maryland Gazette recorded several achievements during its illustrious history,” the newspaper says on its website. “In 1767 Anne Catharine Green became the first female newspaper publisher in the country and the newspaper fought the dreaded stamp tax that started the American Revolution.”