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Police: Newspaper shooter planned deadly attack carefully

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The gunman accused of killing five people in a vendetta against a Maryland newspaper barricaded the rear exit to prevent anyone from escaping and blasted his way through the editors with a pump-action shotgun, the felling of a victim trying to slip in the back, authorities said Friday.

“The man was there to kill as many people as he could,” Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Complex said after Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, was charged with five murders in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in AMERICAN history.

Ramos’ long-held grudge against the Capital Gazette included a string of angry online messages and a failed libel lawsuit over a column about him plead guilty to harassment of a woman. The police looked in the online threats in 2013, but the paper refused to press charges out of fear of inflaming the situation, Atltomare said.

“There is a clear history’, the head of the police said.

Ramos was denied bail Friday after a short hearing at which he, along with the videos, watching intently but not speaking. Authorities said that he was “uncooperative” with interrogators.

His public defenders had no comment outside the court.

Three editors, a reporter and a sales assistant were killed in the Thursday afternoon rampage.

The murders initially stirred fears that the recent political attacks on the “fake news media” explodes in violence, and the police tightened security in the news organizations in New York and other places.

But by all accounts, Ramos had a specific, long-term grievances against the paper.

In the White House, President Donald Trump, who routinely calls reporters “liars” and “enemies of the people,” said: “Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of violent attacks, while doing their work.”

Prosecutor Wes Adams said Ramos carefully planned attack, barricading the back door, and the use of a tactical approach in the hunt and shoot innocent people.”

Adams said the shooter, who was captured hiding under a desk and not exchange fire with the police, also had an escape plan, but the attorney would not elaborate.

The attack began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance to the open newsroom. Journalists crawled under a desk and sought other hiding places, in which painful minutes of fear, when they heard the shooter in the footsteps and the repeated blasts of the weapon.

Some 300 local, state and federal officials arrived on the scene and within two minutes had the police began to corner Ramos, a quick response that “without doubt” saved lives, Altomare said.

The chief of police as referred to Ramos as “the bad guy,” the decline of the speaking of his name, because “he does not deserve for us to talk about him for a second.”

Ramos was identified quickly with the help of facial recognition technology as a result of a “lag” in the running of his fingerprints, the chief said. The police denied news reports that Ramos had mutilated his fingertips to avoid identification.

The chief said the weapon was a 12-gauge shotgun, legally purchased about a year ago, despite the harassment case against Ramos. Authorities say he also used the smoke grenades.

Ramos apparently held a grudge against the Capital Gazette, the journalists on the 2011 cover of his harassment of a woman. He filed a libel lawsuit against the paper in 2012 that was thrown out as unfounded.

He routinely sent profanity-laced tweets about the paper and the writers who retired publisher Tom Marquardt said he called the police in 2013, tells his wife at the time, “This guy could really hurt us.”

The police chief said that the newspaper not press the cost in time, because “there is a fear that this would worsen an already flammable situation.”

In 2015, Ramos tweeted that he would like to see that the paper stop publishing, but “it would be more beautiful” to see two of its journalists “to stop breathing.”

The online resentment apparently went “dark” for a period of up to a few new messages just before the murders, Altomare said. But the chief said that the police were not aware of Ramos’ more recent online activity until after the rampage, saying: “Should we go to? In a perfect world, sure, we need to be.”

Researchers were reviewing Ramos’ social media messages, and the search of his apartment in Laurel, Maryland. Altomare said authorities found evidence in the apartment of the planning and Ramos in the attack, but gave no details.

Those killed included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper’s assistant managing editor and the brother of writer Carl Hiaasen. Also killed were editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, special projects editor Wendi Winters, reporter John McNamara and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

The newspaper said two other employees were treated for minor injuries.

The city of Annapolis announced a vigil for the victims Friday night on a public square near the Capitol.

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Employees are Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo, Sarah Rankin, and Denise Lavoie and the AP News Research Center in New York.

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