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5 dead in shooting at newspaper building in Maryland, suspect in custody

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 14:32:48-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Five people were killed Thursday in a shooting at a local newspaper building in Maryland, and two others were injured, officials in Annapolis said. A law enforcement official tells CBS News the suspect has been identified as Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, Maryland.

The shooting at the Capital Gazette prompted a massive police response, with employees evacuated from the building with hands raised above their heads. The Capital Gazette is a local newspaper owned by The Baltimore Sun.

William Krampf, acting chief of police for Anne Arundel County, said it was a planned attack and that Ramos used smoke grenades when he entered the building. Two law enforcement sources tell CBS News that Ramos used a shotgun. 

Ramos damaged his fingertips in an effort to avoid identification, a law enforcement source tells CBS News.

The first shots were reported at 2:40 p.m. after the shooter entered the building, which also houses other businesses, CBS Baltimore reports. Anne Arundel police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers raced to the scene, arriving in 60 seconds. No gunfire was exchanged between Ramos and the officers before he was taken into custody. Over 170 people were safely escorted out of the building. 

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 released the victims’ identities during a late Thursday press briefing. They were all employees at Capital Gazette including four journalists and a sales assistant: Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and Robert Hiaasen.

Winters was the special publications editor. McNamara was a writer. Fischman was editorial page editor. Smith was a sales assistant. Hiassen was an assistant editor and columnist.

Phil Davis, a Gazette reporter, tweeted that he was in the building when the shooting happened. Davis said via Twitter the gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. He said he hid under his desk and employees heard the gunman reload. 

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.

President Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the shooting and said his "thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families." Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and FBI were aiding in the law enforcement response.

The Capital Gazette’s staff includes three people on the executive staff as well as seven editors, according to Eight staff writers cover topics including courts, entertainment and education.

A GoFundMe account has been set up in wake of Thursday’s shooting. The account was set up by a fellow journalist, Bloomberg Government reporter Madi Alexander. By 9:30 p.m., the total amount in donations had nearly reached 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.

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