Workplace Shooting at MD Newspaper

Liz Carey

Annapolis, MD (WorkersCompensation.com) – At least five are dead, and two others wounded, in another workplace shooting, this time at a Maryland newspaper.

Authorities said around 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jarrod Ramos, 38, entered the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis and opened fire on the newsroom. Ramos is alleged to have had a long-standing grudge against the paper, stemming from a defamation lawsuit he filed against a columnist and the editor/publisher of the paper in 2012. The columnist had used Ramos as an example in his column, discussing Ramos’ stalking of a former classmate.

According to a legal document, the article contended that Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminally harassing her. The court agreed that the contents of the article were accurate and based on public records, the document showed.

Ramos said on Twitter that he had set up an account to defend himself, and wrote in his bio that he was suing people in Anne Arundel County and “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”

The deceased are Rob Hiaasen, 59, assistant editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, 65, community correspondent who headed special publications; Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, staff writer covering high school, college and professional sports; and Rebecca Smith, 34, sales assistant.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf. “This person was prepared today to come in. He was prepared to shoot people.”

The shootings came after several reports of threats against the newspaper on social media, Krampf said. Some of those threats were violent in nature, he said.

Gov. Larry Hogan wrote on Twitter that he was “absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.”

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who has represented Annapolis in the House of Delegates since 1987, called the Capital Gazette “the voice of the community.”

“This is a shocker,” he said. “Over the years, a lot of these people become friends. They do their job, you do your job, and you respect them for it. A lot of good writers have come out of there.”

Two other employees of the paper were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The newspaper is located in a sprawling, low building located about five miles west of the US Naval Academy, and shares the building with 30 other tenants. Five of those tenants share the first floor with the Capital Gazette, including law offices, medical offices and accountants offices.

Many of the tenants of the building told the Baltimore Sun, they ran for cover when they heard of the shooting as well.

Aaron Smith and Randall Fisher of the Fisher Law Office told the Baltimore Sun they learned of the assault via texts from friends. In response, they said, they flipped over a desk in front of the door to the office, and waited until help arrived.

Others in the building said they sheltered in place, per the direction of the police. Some got ready to run. Others said they hid. One, according to the Baltimore Sun, pulled two handguns from his desk drawer, prepared to shoot in self-defense.

Rayne Foster, of Foster and Associates, another building tenant, told the Sun police told them to lock their door and stay inside their office. A receptionist gathered the staff together to wait.

“You see it on the news,” Foster said, “and you think, ‘These poor people.’ You wonder how they feel. Now I know.”

Attorneys with Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg and Katzenberg did not immediately respond to calls by press time asking whether or not PTSD in employees of the tenants of that building would be covered under workers’ compensation.

Ramos was apprehended at the site and although he had no identification on him and refused to cooperate with the police, was eventually identified and charged with five counts of first degree murder. He is scheduled to have a bail hearing this morning.