This article titled “Maryland shooting: five victims named after ‘targeted attack’ on newspaper – live updates” was written by Kate Lyons (now), Julia Carrie Wong and Oliver Laughland (earlier), for theguardian.com on Friday 29th June 2018 09.28 Asia/Kolkata
There have been some updates to our piece tying together what we know so far about the shooting. The latest:
- Police said the shooter “indicated violence” through social media threats before the shooting.
- The suspect did not exchange gunfire with responding officers
- The suspect used smoke grenades – initially reported as improvised explosive decvices – when carrying out the attack.
Read the full article here:
“The attack on the Capital Gazette, in which four journalists and a sales assistant were murdered, is the most deadly day for the media that we have recorded in the United States since we began tracking data in 1992,” said Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which collects data on journalists killed in work-related incidents worldwide.
News reports Thursday night naming the suspected shooter identified him as a man who had previously sued the newspaper for defamation and lost. In the global context, an attack on local journalists for covering a small local issue is far from unprecedented, Simon said.
Many of the attacks that CPJ tracks targeted local journalists who “reported on very local issues and got killed as a result,” including for issues that might seem “fairly petty,” like coverage of cockfighting or an expose of a local politician, Simon said.
“Journalists who work in a very local context, they have an intimate relationship with the communities they cover. When powerful figures in their communities are upset with them, they know precisely who the journalists are,” Simon said. “The anger they feel, in their own minds, about being exposed within their own communities can be a powerful force that leads them into this violence.”
“Not all of these crimes are carried out because of some national conflict or some high-profile corruption scandal or human rights issues. A lot of them are responsive to journalists working in their own communities, exposing corruption or wrongdoing of powerful figures within those communities.”
According to Committee to Protect Journalists statistics the deadliest day for journalists globally was November 23, 2009, in the Phillipines, when “29 journalists and two media support workers were ambushed and brutally slain” in a “politically motivated ambush,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine, which left 12 people dead, is the “most comparable event” to Thursday’s shooting, Simon said.
“Multiple killings of journalists in a global context are not uncommon,” Simon said, but “But this is an unprecedented event in the United States.”
With many details about the attack still unknown, Simon cautioned against linking Thursday’s shooting to President Donald Trump’s continued rhetorical attacks on journalists as “the enemy of the people.”
“Obviously, we’ve expressed our dismay at these comments that President Trump has made, and we’re obviously horrified by what happened today. At this point, knowning what we know, I don’t think it’s wise to make any connection,” Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said.
Additional police patrols were deployed to the offices of news outlets around the US this afternoon, in response to today’s attack on the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced they were adding patrols around major news outlets in the city as a precaution and “reassurance”. The New York Times and Reuters buildings also had police stationed outside through the afternoon.
Anne Arundel police department has released a statement saying that for “investigative reasons” they have not released the suspect’s name or photograph.
The suspect has been widely named by various newspapers, citing police sources and police documents, as Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, Maryland, though the Guardian has not confirmed this independently.
Posts have been pouring in on social about the five victims who were named by police in the last half hour. Former and current journalists from the Capital Gazette have tweeted about their colleagues:
Justin Trudeau has tweeted in response to the shooting, saying an attack on journalists trying to do their jobs was “devastating”.
The Baltimore Sun, the sister newspaper of the Capital Gazette, have released an editorial paying tribute to their colleagues and speaking of the need to act in response to the “shocking regularity” of mass shootings.
As journalists, we have covered more mass shootings than we care to count. Today gun violence hit our family, and we are feeling its pain more acutely than we could have imagined — yet it’s a pain we know will be repeated in community after community, in shooting after shooting, unless we act. We can accept no more excuses.
They also pointed to the atmosphere of hostility toward journalism at present in the US.
At a time of political divisiveness when views of the news industry itself have become starkly polarised, many jumped quickly to speculation about whether the metaphorical war on the media had become shockingly literal… That’s why so many reporters across the nation got a sickening feeling Thursday afternoon — they couldn’t believe something like this had happened, except that they could.
Gavin Buckley, mayor of Annapolis, who spoke to CNN immediately before the press conference held by police, praised the county’s police officers who ran toward danger.
Earlier today Lt Ryan Frashure, of the Anne Arundel county police, told press that police were on the scene “less than a minute” after the attack began. Mayor Buckley said their swift response can be credited to recent training.
“Last month we did an active shooter drill and that is why our guys got there so fast,” said Buckley.
Buckley said he was at a loss to know why the newspaper would have been targeted, and that it was not a politically contentious publication.
“This paper is not a liberal newspaper, it’s not a right wing newspaper, it stays in the middle and covers local issues,” he said. Adding, of the reporters, “we love them”.
I have to ask the question: why are people so tightly wound now? What is making people so angry?”
Victims named by police
The victims of the attack have been named, all of them were employees of the Gazette.
They are: Rob Hiaasen, assistant news editor, Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor, Wendi Winters, special publications editor, Rebecca Smith, sales assistant, and John McNamara, staff writer.
Acting police chief William Krampf has concluded the press conference:
We have a responsibility and an obligation to these victims, everyone in the Anne Arundel county police, we are deeply saddened by what happened today, we are deeply saddened that we had to make those notifications, we are deeply saddened that a person had to take this into his own hands and this is the result.
Acting police chief Krampf is addressing media and naming victims. He says the suspect is being interrogated and there are “no further threats” connected with the attack.
“This cannot be the new normal,” Gavin Buckley, the mayor of Annapolis has said.
Addressing CNN he said he had to ask the question “Why are people so tightly wound now? What is making people so angry?”
More on that shortly, but the police are about to address media.
This is Kate Lyons, taking over from Julia Carrie Wong.
Staff at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, who were in the newspaper’s offices when a gunman entered and killed five of their colleagues, have said they need more than “thoughts and prayers” from the president.
President Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the shooting and his “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims and their families, but refused to answer reporters questions about the shooting or issue an on-camera statement about it.
“I have heard that President Trump sends his prayers,” said staff writer Selene San Felice. “I’m not trying to make this political, but we need more than prayers. I want your prayers, but I want something else.”
“This is going to be a story for how many days? Less than a week? People will forget about us in less than a week,” she told CNN. “I’m going to need more than a couple of days of news coverage and thoughts and prayers, our whole lives have been shattered.”
San Felice told of how she and a colleague had hidden under a desk when the gunman entered the building and had herself been praying while the shooting had been going on, but suggested she wanted more in response to the violence.
“Thank you for your prayers, but I couldn’t give a fuck about them if there’s nothing else.”
Phil Davis, another staff writer at the newspaper, told CNN: “I was praying when he started reloading that shotgun that there weren’t going to be more bodies, but if we’re in a position in this society where all we can offer is prayers, where are we as a society?”
Suspect named as Jarrod Ramos, say reports
The suspect in today’s attack has been named by various news outlets as Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, from Laurel, Maryland.
Ramos has been named by the Washington Post citing police sources, and was earlier named by the Baltimore Sun, the sister newspaper of the Capital Gazette, where the attack took place.
The Washington Post wrote that a bulletin emailed to Maryland law enforcement officials identified the shooting suspect as Jarrod Ramos and police were searching an apartment in Laurel tied to Ramos.
The Guardian has not been able to independently verify his identity and police said earlier today they would not be releasing the name of the suspect, who is in custody, until tomorrow morning.
Ramos filed a defamation case against the Capital Gazette in 2012 for a column written about him by columnist Eric Hartley, which he lost in 2015.
First victim identified – Capital Gazette editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen
Columnist and assistant editor Rob Hiaasen has been named by the Baltimore Sun as one of the five people killed in a shooting at the Sun’s sister publication, the Capital Gazette.
The veteran newspaper reporter had been a features writer for the Baltimore Sun for 17 years before he joined the Capital in 2010. In addition to his editing duties, he wrote a Sunday column on topics ranging from bat houses to snow snorkeling.
On Tuesday night, Capital photojournalist Paul W Gillespie tweeted praise for the editor, who had ordered pizza to sustain the newsroom on an election night.
Hiaasen’s brother, Carl Hiaasen, is a well known author and journalist.
“I just want people to know what an incredibly gentle, generous and gifted guy my brother was,” Carl Hiaasen told the Washington Post Thursday night. “He was an unforgettably warm and uplifting presence as a father and brother, but he also had dedicated his whole life to journalism.”
Police deny fingerprint mutilation report
Lieutenant Ryan Frashure of the Anne Arundel county police just told CNN that reports about the suspect’s fingerprints having been mutilated are false.
“It is simply not true that he obliterated his fingerprints,” Frashure told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
At this evening’s press conference, acting police chief Krampf had said only that he did not know about the reports that the suspect had attempted to hide his identity my mutilating his fingers.
But when Cooper asked for clarification, Frashure repeated: “He definitely didn’t obliterate them.”
Ben Jacobs is on the ground in Annapolis, where he just attended a press briefing by acting police chief and spoke briefly to one of the Capital Gazette’s reporters.
Pat Furgurson, a veteran journalist for the Capital Gazette stood behind the police during the press conference, in an untucked blue shirt and rumpled khakis, recording audio and even getting in a question.
Afterwards, Furgurson spoke briefly to his fellow reporters. Visibly shaken, he said that the victims were “just trying to do their job for the public.”
“Something like this might happen in Afghanistan or Iraq or something like that, but you don’t expect it in a sleepy office across the street from a local mall,” he said, before promising that the Capital Gazette would be published on Friday: “We’re still putting out a newspaper.”
When asked if he had any message for others, Furgurson choked up and paused for a minute. “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding,” he said, before walking away.
He had a story to file.
At this evening’s press conference, Krampf provided further information and some clarifications about the shooting:
- The suspect is a white male in his late 30s who is a resident of Maryland.
- The suspected explosive device recovered by law enforcement was actually canisters of smoke grenades, some of which the suspect used inside the building.
- Krampf said he had no information about the reports that the suspect had mutilated his fingerprints, nor about the use of facial recognition technology for identification.
- Law enforcement has secured the suspect’s residence and is working on getting search warrants.
“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette”
The mass shooting that left five people dead at the headquarters of an Annapolis newspaper was “a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette”, acting police chief William Krampf said at a press conference.
“This person was prepared to shoot people,” Krampf said of the suspect. “His intent was to cause harm.”
Authorities have not released any information as to a motive for the attack, but Krampf said that they were investigating threats sent to the Capital Gazette through social media as recently as today.
The threats “indicated violence”, Krampf said.
Three victims taken to area hospitals
In addition to the five fatalities, at least three people were taken to hospital with injuries.
A spokesperson for the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center confirmed by email that the hospital is treating one victim, but did not provide any further information about the patient’s status.
A spokeswoman for Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis said that the hospital had treated two patients with minor injuries. One of the victims has already been discharged, the spokeswoman said, and the second is likely to be discharged tonight.
Report: suspect identified despite mutilating fingers
The Associated Press is reporting that the suspect in the shooting mutilated his fingers in an apparent attempt to prevent law enforcement from identifying him by his fingerprints.
Despite the mutilation, however, investigators were able to identify the suspect using facial recognition technology, according to the AP.
The suspect’s identity has not been released to the public.
NBC News has shared footage of President Trump walking past a group of reporters who shout questions about the shooting. Trump had tweeted his “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families earlier in the day, but did not respond to questions as he made his way into the White House.
“Will you please talk to us about the dead reporters in Annapolis?” one reporter shouted, as Trump kept walking.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a condemnation of the “evil act of senseless violence”, adding: “A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American.”
Sanders’ tweet follows a brief exchange between the White House pool reporter and White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters: “Asked about the president’s criticism of the press corps she said the president and his staff do not believe violence is acceptable in any situation ‘and we stand by that.’”
Law enforcement has not released any information as to a possible motive for the attack.
Anne Arundel County executive Steve Schuh told the Associated Press that the suspect “has not been very forthcoming”.
“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,” Schuh said.
“We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow”
The Baltimore Sun has published a history of its sister newspapers, the Maryland Gazette and the Capital.
The Maryland Gazette was founded in 1727, making it the seventh newspaper in what is now the United States.
“In July 1776, the Gazette was one of the first newspapers to publish the Declaration of Independence, although it appeared on page 2; then, as now, local news took precedence,” writes Sun reporter Chris Kaltenbach.
The Capital was founded in 1884, and the two papers merged in 1919. The papers were sold to the Baltimore Sun Media Group in 2014.
Jimmy DeButts, an editor for the Capital Gazette, wrote about the work of the paper’s staff in a series of tweets.
Capital Gazette reporter Chase Cook reiterated Joshua McKerrow’s promise in a tweet, writing, “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”
Ben Jacobs is on the ground at the site of the shooting.
The scene in Annapolis mixed the mundane with the grotesque.
The office building that held the Capital Gazette was ringed by emergency vehicles of every type: police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and a mobile command center or two. Helicopters whirled over ahead while police officers in tactical vests and even camouflage milled about off in the distance
The building, across the street from a popular shopping mall, could have been anywhere the the United States from Annapolis, Maryland to Yuma, Arizona. It held a variety of professional offices. There were banks with a drive through in windows both in front of the offices and across the service street that led into its parking lot.
The media nestled in a small bank of grass next to the shopping mall in front of a strip mall that advertised a “psychotherapeutics services” offices. A long row of camera crews stretched nearly a block with reporters from all over the world speaking in several different languages.
This is Julia Carrie Wong, taking over our live coverage of the Capital Gazette shooting from San Francisco.
The staff of the Capital Gazette are continuing to work and report amid extraordinary and tragic circumstances.
Joshua McKerrow, a photojournalist who said he was not in the newsroom at the time of the shooting, has been sharing photographs from the scene on Twitter. Shortly after 6pm local time, he tweeted a promise that there will be a paper produced on Friday.
Pat Ferguson, another Capital journalist, reportedly told a CNBC reporter and former colleague that he is hard at work, “charging his phone, trying to find colleagues and ‘putting out a paper, goddamn it’”.
Ben Jacobs, who is on the ground in Annapolis, has been speaking to witnesses.
Carlos Linares, a mechanical engineer from Southern Maryland, was on the fourth floor of the building to see his lawyer when he heard a man shouting at about 2:55. He didn’t think much of it until several minutes later when he heard “a commotion” outside the conference room, saw people in “the corridor and the lobby”, and was told there was an active shooter.
Within a few minutes a police officer arrived and told everyone to stay where they were, Linares recalled. The police later escorted everyone out of the building with their hands up, and Linares noticed broken glass scattered on the ground on the first floor.
“I’ve never see so many cops in my life,” he said, describing seeing police in every direction and helicopters in the sky.
Linares said he was asked why he was so calm while they were waiting in the lobby. He said that he had been in the Pentagon on 9/11, albeit on the other side of the building.
Police: death toll remains at five and suspect in custody
At a press conference in Annapolis, local police have updated reporters on a few key details.
- Police have not been yet been able to identify the suspect, who remains in police custody and is currently being interrogated.
- Lt Ryan Frashure described the suspected shooter as a white man. He said he is suspected to have used a long gun in the attack.
- Acting Anne Arundel county police department chief William Krampf said that officers recovered a suspected explosive device that has now “been taken care of”.
- The death toll remains at five. None of the victims have been identified in public.
- Lt Frashure said that the suspect did not exchange gunfire with responding officers.
- Steve Schuh, county executive of Anne Arundel county, told CNN immediately after that the suspect was found by officers underneath a desk. His weapon was discovered on the ground close by.
- Four victims died at the scene. One died in hospital, Schuh said.
Ben Jacobs is now on the ground in Annapolis. He’s been speaking to workers in the same building as the Capital Gazette, who heard the shooting unfold.
Bethany Clasing, a legal assistant who works a floor above the Capital-Gazette, initially wasn’t sure what she was hearing. “I didn’t think it was gunshots at first and then I heard the police and realized it has to be gunshots,” she told reporters. Working in an office with her mother, she had to convince her mother what was happening. “It’s definitely the police they were shouting to get down,” said Clasing.
She said there was a fast police response and that “pretty soon after the gun shots they were up the floor and telling us to get out.” They were then evacuated across the street to a shopping mall.
Looking back at the experience, Clasing said “I was really confused at first, it’s not like you would expect someone to come and shoot up this building.”
We’re expecting another press briefing at 5:30 ET, some reporters on the scene are suggesting that the death toll of five, which was announced earlier, may now be updated.
Capital Gazette staffers posted a number of distressing eyewitness accounts to Twitter as the shooting unfolded.
Other Gazette reporters captured the immediate aftermath of the shooting from outside the office.
Police have yet to ascribe any motive to the shooter, despite being asked multiple times during a press conference outside the Capital Gazette’s headquarters minutes ago.
CNN are quoting anonymous law enforcement sources saying the suspect is not assisting investigators and not answering questions during interview. The Guardian has not been able to verify these claims, but officers confirmed the suspect was still being interviewed at the time of the press conference.
Thursday’s shooting is not the first time a local newsroom has found itself the target of a gun attack.
In August 2015, a disturbed former employee for WDBJ7 TV news in Roanaoke, Virginia opened fire on journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward during an on-air interview. About 40,000 viewers reportedly watched the journalists’ murder live – including their own shocked colleagues. Officials said the perpetrator, a former reporter for the station who had been fired, died after shooting himself.
The woman being interviewed during the broadcast, a local economic development executive, was also shot, but survived.
Chris Hurst, a former WBDJ7 journalist and Parker’s boyfriend at the time, later left journalism and successfully ran for state office on a gun violence prevention platform.
Trump sends ‘thoughts and prayers’ to victims and families
President Trump, traveling in the state of Wisconsin, sent his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families via Twitter.
Phil Davis, a courts and crime reporter for the Capital Gazette was inside the building when the shooter opened fire. He’s given a detailed interview to the Baltimore Sun, the Gazette’s sister paper, describing a “war zone” inside his newsroom as the attack took place.
I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time. 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
The report continues:
Davis said 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,” Davis said.
Police then arrived and surrounded the shooter, Davis said. He declined to elaborate.
Five confirmed dead in attack on Capital Gazette office
As the press conference comes to an end, acting Anne Arundel county police department chief William Krampf confirms five people have been killed in the shooting and several others “gravely injured”.
Maryland governor Larry Hogan said earlier: “Your heart goes out to all the people who lost their lives, all their families.”
Hogan said police responded to the incident within 60 seconds of the shooting beginning. They would not comment on what type of weapon the shooter used in the attack.
Police are not able to confirm whereabout in the building the shooting occurred, says Lt. Ryan Frashure of the Anne Arundel County police department.
Frashure confirms there is only one suspect in the shooting and the building has now been cleared.
City and county officials say ‘several people’ killed
City and county officials have confirmed at a press conference that “several people” have been killed in the shooting and “several” others injured.
The officials confirm that the shooter is in custody. The suspect is currently being interviewed by detectives.
NYPD: officers deployed to media organisations in New York
Police respond to shooting in Annapolis, Maryland
- Police in Annapolis, Maryland are responding to a shooting at the headquarters of the Capital Gazette.
- An eyewitness account, posted on Twitter by a Capital Gazette reporter, indicate a gunman opened fire on multiple people inside the building.
- Reports indicate the shooter has been taken into custody.
- Two state highways were closed in Anne Arundel county Maryland because of police activity, according to the state’s highway administration.
- A spokeswoman for Donald Trump said the president had been briefed on the shooting, according to a pool report. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all that are affected,” said the spokeswoman, Lindsay Walters.
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