Annapolis Shooting Suspect Had Long-Running Dispute With Newspaper

Annapolis Shooting Suspect Had Long-Running Dispute With Newspaper

Jarrod W. RamosCreditAnne Arundel Police

Jarrod W. Ramos, who the authorities say used a shotgun to blast his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom on Thursday, killing five people and wounding two others, had a long-running dispute with the news organization.

He had previously made “general threats” against the community newspaper company over social media, including some as recent Thursday, said William Krampf, Anne Arundel County’s acting police chief. The threats “indicated violence,” Chief Krampf said.

[Read our coverage of the shooting here.]

Mr. Ramos, 38, was arrested after the attack. He was found hiding under a desk. He was charged on Friday morning with five counts of first-degree murder.

As recently as 2012, Mr. Ramos worked for the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. He has a degree in computer engineering.

A Long-Running Dispute With The Capital

His feud with The Capital, the chain’s daily newspaper, apparently began with a column in 2011 that detailed his harassment of a high school classmate.

After Mr. Ramos reconnected with the classmate in 2009, his emails to her soon turned venomous.

“He seems to think there’s some sort of relationship here that does not exist,” the woman told a judge, according to court documents in a harassment case she brought against Mr. Ramos. “I tried to back away from it, and he just started getting angry and vulgar to the point I had to tell him to stop.”

After she told him not to contact her again, Mr. Ramos wrote in a 2010 email that the woman should “go hang yourself.”

Weeks later, the woman was put on probation at the bank where she worked. A supervisor told her it was because Mr. Ramos had sent an email — and had also called the bank — telling managers that the bank should fire her.

A judge gave Mr. Ramos a 90-day sentence, but suspended the jail time. Instead, Mr. Ramos was granted probation before judgment. He was ordered not to contact the woman and to continue getting therapy.

Not long afterward, The Capital published the column that apparently fueled his anger.

A Losing Court Battle

Mr. Ramos filed a lawsuit against the owners of The Capital in 2012, claiming that it had defamed him in reporting that Mr. Ramos had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal harassment charge. Months later, he filed a fuller complaint alleging invasion of privacy, but the lawsuit was dismissed by a judge the next year because Mr. Ramos was unable to describe how he had been harmed by the newspaper article.

Mr. Ramos, who represented himself in the case, appealed the decision. But in 2015 an appellate court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, stating that Mr. Ramos showed little knowledge of defamation law and seemed not to “have learned his lesson.”

Tom Marquardt, a former executive editor and publisher at the newspaper, said Thursday night that he had long feared Mr. Ramos might resort to a violent act against the newspaper.

“I said at one time to my attorneys that this was a guy that was going to come and shoot us,” Mr. Marquardt said. “I was concerned on my behalf and on behalf of my staff that he was going to take more than legal action.”

Exhibiting Anger on Twitter

In November 2011, Mr. Ramos began tweeting under an account he called @EricHartleyFrnd, in which he mocked the column about him, by the reporter Eric Hartley, in The Capital, posted screenshots of court documents relating to a defamation case he had filed against the newspaper, and railed against newspaper employees. His tweets were laced with profanity, and often addressed Capital employees directly, as though he were having an ongoing conversation with them.

“See Tom, both choices were wrong,” he wrote on Nov. 12, 2012, apparently referring to Mr. Marquardt. “You already chose that long ago. But to print it was far more wrong. That was true to your form as well.”

On April 23, 2013, he addressed Rob Hiaasen, who was one of the people killed in the Thursday shooting:

“Rob Hiaasen, you’re one of his enabled asshole aristocrats @capgaznews. Come punitive damages, you’re still not ready. Love, /The Killjoy/.”

The account went quiet after a tweet on Jan. 21, 2016.

But on Thursday, Mr. Ramos tweeted again, addressing a profanity to a Twitter handle that he appears to have created based on a judge in the defamation case, @judgemoylanfrnd.

Jack Begg contributed research.

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