Jarrod Ramos, the gunmen who allegedly burst into the Maryland newsroom and killed five people, is not cooperating with investigators, according to authorities and did not speak during a brief court hearing at Anne Arundel County criminal court.
The suspect fired through a glass door, looked for victims and then sprayed the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis with gunfire, police and a witness said.
Acting police chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department William Krampf told a news conference that Capital Gazette assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59, was among the victims.
Wendi Winters, 65; Rebecca Smith, 34; Gerald Fischman, 61; and John McNamara were also killed, he said. Smith was a sales assistant and the others were journalists.
"This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette," Krampf said. "This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm."
TRT World's Sally Ayhan reports from Maryland.
The suspect is Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, the Capital Gazette and Baltimore Sun reported, citing law enforcement. He faces five counts of first degree murder and has been denied bail.
The Maryland man charged with rampaging through a newsroom in Annapolis with a pump-action shotgun and killing five people was denied bail on Friday after one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in US history.
Ramos, from Laurel, 25 miles (40 km) west of Annapolis, is not cooperating with investigators, authorities said, and did not speak – but appeared to watch attentively – as he appeared by video link from a detention facility for a brief court hearing at Anne Arundel County criminal court. He was represented by public defender William Davis.
"The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could," Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare told a news conference, adding that the suspect was identified using facial-recognition technology.
Altomare said evidence found at the suspect's home showed he planned the attack, and that the pump-action 12 gauge shotgun used by the shooter was legally purchased about a year ago.
Ramos opened fire through a glass door, hunting for victims and spraying the newsroom with gunfire as reporters hid under their desks and begged for help on social media. Prosecutors said he barricaded a back door to stop people from fleeing.
Police officers in the Maryland capital of Annapolis responded within a minute to a 911 call about the shooting in progress, and Ramos was arrested after being found hiding under a desk with the shotgun on the floor nearby, police said.
A prosecutor says the shooter had an escape plan he never implemented. Prosecutor Wes Adams did not give any details about his escape plan.
Ramos will face either a preliminary court hearing or grand jury indictment within the next 30 days.
Ramos' grudge against the paper
Ramos had a longstanding grudge against the newspaper that was targeted and unsuccessfully sued it for defamation in 2012 over an article that reported how he harassed a former high school classmate, court records showed.
In 2012, Ramos brought a defamation lawsuit against Eric Hartley, formerly a staff writer and columnist with publication The Capital, and Thomas Marquardt, then editor and publisher of The Capital, according to a court filing.
In 2015, Maryland’s second-highest court upheld a ruling in favor of the Capital Gazette and a former reporter who were accused by Ramos of defamation.
According to a legal document, the article contended that Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment. 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."
Neither Hartley nor Marquardt is still employed by the paper or were at its office on Thursday.
'A war zone'
Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter, said he was hiding under his desk along with other newspaper employees when the shooter stopped firing, the Capital Gazette reported on its website.
The newsroom looked "like a war zone," he told the Baltimore Sun, adding, "I don't know why he stopped."
"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 said.
Police are treating the shooting as a local incident, with no links to terrorism, a law enforcement source said. Krampf did not say why the gunman may have targeted the newspaper or its employees.
When police found the suspect, his weapon was on the ground and "not in his immediate proximity," Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel county executive, told cable news station CNN.
Police said they recovered what they thought might have been an explosive device but Krampf later said the suspect had smoke grenades. Investigators were in the process of securing his Maryland residence and obtaining search warrants, he said.
The suspect appeared to have damaged his fingertips to try to avoid detection and was refusing to cooperate with law enforcement, Baltimore TV station WJZ and other local media reported. Krampf did not comment on those reports.
Capital Gazette runs multiple newspapers out of its Annapolis office and the group includes one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, The Gazette, which traces its origins back to 1727.
The company, part of the Tronc Inc media group, publishes newspapers in and around Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy. The papers have thrived by focusing on local news in the shadows of two much larger competitors, the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.
Fears for other attacks
Law enforcement in Baltimore and New York City deployed extra officers to the offices of the New York Times and other major media outlets as a precaution, authorities said.
The shooting drew the attention of media groups, including Reporters Without Borders, which said it was deeply disturbed by the events in Annapolis.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that US President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene," Trump said in a tweet.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter, "A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American."
Jimmy DeButts, an editor at the Capital Gazette, tweeted that he was devastated, heartbroken and numb.
"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," he wrote.
A vigil for the victims is planned for 8:00 pm EDT on Friday at the public square near the Capital Gazette newspaper, followed by a march to the dock for a service by the water. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff.
A local journalist has set up a GoFundMe page to support the victims of the shooting.
Click here to donate.