ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBS/AP) — A gunman opened fire at a newspaper office in Annapolis on Thursday, killing five people and gravely wounding several others before being taken into custody in what appeared to be one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history, police and witnesses said.
“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said Bill Krampf, deputy chief with the Anne Arundel County Police Department.
Krampf said the suspect entered the lower level of the building with a shotgun and smoke grenades and was prepared to cause harm.
“This person was prepared to shoot people, his intent was to cause harm,” Krampf added.
CBS News has identified the suspect has Jarrod Ramos.
Police have not released the shooter’s identity, but say he’s a white man in his 30s who lives in Maryland.
The suspect had mutilated his fingers in an apparent attempt to make it harder to identify him, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said investigators still managed to identify him, though it was not clear how.
Police could not comment on the motive behind the attack.
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.
Davis added: “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”
“The shooter has not been very forthcoming, so we don’t have any information yet on motive,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said. “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.”
Those killed included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper’s assistant managing editor and brother of novelist Carl Hiaasen. Carl Hiaasen said he was “devastated and heartsick” at losing his brother, “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.” Also slain were Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; features reporter Wendi Winters; reporter John McNamara, and sales assistant Rebecca Smith. The newspaper said two other employees had non-life threatening injuries and were later released from a hospital.
• Wendi Winters
• Rebecca Smith
• Robert Hiaasen
• Gerald Fischman
• John McNamara
Krampf said they were all employees of the Captial Gazette.
Two other victims were also injured in the shooting; their conditions are unknown at this time.
Police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers raced to the scene, arriving in 60 seconds, and took the gunman into custody without an exchange of gunfire.
About 170 people in all were evacuated from the building as a multitude of police cars and other emergency vehicles converged on the scene. People could be seen leaving the building with their hands up.
The newspaper is part of Capital Gazette Communications, which also publishes the Maryland Gazette and CapitalGazette.com.
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 gunman stopped firing.
“I don’t know why. I don’t know why he stopped,” he said.
In 2012, Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, alleging he was harmed by an article about his conviction in a criminal harassment case a year earlier. The suit was dismissed by a judge who wrote Ramos hadn’t shown “anything that was published about you is, in fact, false.” An appeals court later upheld the dismissal.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said the community was grieving the attack on its paper.
“These are the guys that come to city council meetings, have to listen to boring politicians and sit there,” Buckley said. “They don’t make a lot of money. It’s just immoral that their lives should be in danger.”
President Donald Trump says his “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims of the shooting at a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, and their families.
Trump says in a tweet that he was briefed on the shooting at The Capital Gazette before departing Wisconsin.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)