ANNAPOLIS (Maryland) • A man brandishing a shotgun and carrying smoke grenades walked into the office of a small newspaper in Maryland and killed at least five people in a targeted assault, one of the deadliest attacks recorded on a US media outlet, the authorities said.
The chilling attack on the Capital Gazette on Thursday, which also wounded two people, was covered in real time by some of the journalists who found themselves under siege.
Mr Phil Davis, who identified himself as a courts and crime reporter at the newspaper, described how the gunman "shot through the glass door to the office" before opening fire inside.
"There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hearing the gunman reload," Mr Davis wrote.
Mr Anthony Messenger, an intern, tweeted out the address of the office building where the newsroom is based, saying "please help us".
The gunman was silent as he stalked the newsroom, stopping once to reload as journalists huddled in fear under their desks, Mr Davis said in a telephone interview.
Once the police arrived, staff members put their hands in the air and shouted "we're not him", Mr Davis recalled. The gunman was hiding under a desk as the police moved in. He did not exchange gunfire with officers when he was taken in.
Live video showed people leaving the building, walking through a parking lot with their hands in the air. Scores of police vehicles were on the scene. About 170 people were evacuated.
The suspect has been identified as Jarrod Ramos, 38, who had a long-running feud with the paper, sources told The Baltimore Sun.
There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hearing the gunman reload.
MR PHIL DAVIS, a courts and crime reporter at the Capital Gazette.
He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, and was due to appear in court yesterday.
The suspect appeared to have damaged his fingertips to try to avoid being identified and was refusing to cooperate with law enforcement, Baltimore TV station WJZ and other local media reported.
The police bomb squad investigated a knapsack that was found near the suspected shooter and contained an unknown device.
Among those killed was veteran columnist, editor and journalism teacher Rob Hiaasen, 59.
Journalists Wendy Winters, 65, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara, 56, as well as sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34, were also killed.
In 2012, Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit against the paper and a columnist over a July 2011 story that covered a criminal harassment case against him.
Ramos had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment five days before the column was published, records showed. He claimed in court documents that his perspective was not fairly represented. His lawsuit was dismissed in 2013, and an appellate court upheld the dismissal in 2015.
As the case made its way through the courts, a Twitter user calling himself Jarrod W. Ramos posted numerous tweets critical of the Capital Gazette, the columnist who wrote the article and Maryland judges.
The account went silent from January 2016 until Thursday, just before the shooting at the Capital Gazette. The day after the ruling in his criminal harassment trial, Ramos had tweeted: "F*** you, leave me alone."
On Thursday, just minutes before he allegedly opened fire at the Capital Gazette's offices, he again tweeted: "F*** you, leave me alone."
President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting, a White House spokesman said.
Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday: "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."
His press secretary, Ms Sarah Sanders, described the incident as an attack on "innocent journalists".
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST