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Five people were killed on Thursday when a man with a shotgun opened fire in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland’s capital, in a “targeted attack,” police said. The suspect had sued the paper six years ago and lost.
“This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm,” Bill Krampf, deputy police chief of Anne Arundel County, said at a news conference Thursday evening. Two people suffered superficial wounds, possibly from broken glass, he said.
Three senior law enforcement officials briefed on the matter told NBC News that the suspect has been identified as Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Maryland.
Ramos sued the Capital Gazette for defamation in 2012 after a columnist wrote about his guilty plea to criminal harassment in 2011. His case was dismissed, and an appeals court affirmed the decision.
On Thursday around 2:40 p.m., police were notified about an active shooter, authorities said. The gunman also had smoke grenades that he used when he entered the building, Krampf said. Earlier, Krampf had identified the grenades as a “possible explosive device.”
Asked about reports that Ramos had issues with the newspaper a few years ago, Krampf said, “That’s what I’m hearing,” but added that investigators had yet to confirm that.
“He entered the building with a shotgun and he looked for his victims” inside, Krampf said.
Phil Davis, a Gazette crime reporter who was in the office, recounted the shooting on Twitter.
“Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees,” Davis said. “Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad.”
“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” Davis said in another tweet.
Anthony Messenger, who is believed to be an intern at the Gazette, said on Twitter: “Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us.” The newspaper’s office is at 888 Bestgate Road.
Senior law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation told NBC News that Ramos had been identified through the use of facial recognition software. The sources said earlier that he had somehow obscured his fingerprints, making identification difficult. Krampf would not confirm those details, and said Thursday evening that he had no knowledge of any facial recognition or anything about fingerprints.
In a later interview with The Baltimore Sun, which owns the Capital Gazette, Davis said it “was like a war zone” inside the newspaper’s offices.
Davis said he and others were hiding under their desks when the gunman stopped firing.
“I don’t know why. I don’t know why he stopped,” Davis said.
Anne Arundel County Police Lt. Ryan Frashure said there was no exchange of gunfire between the gunman and police.