A video grab shows police at the scene of a shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday. Police identified the gunman as Jarrod Ramos, 38. Photo by Greg Miller/EPA-EFE
June 29 (UPI) -- The alleged gunman who killed five people at a Maryland newspaper has been identified as Jarrod Ramos, a man who had a feud with the paper going back several years, officials said Thursday.
Ramos, 38, pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal harassment on July 26, 2011 and was given a suspended 90-day jail sentence. Five days later, the Capital Gazette newspaper published a story about Ramos' case, which involved stalking and harassing a woman on Facebook, USA Today reported.
The article had been taken off the Capital Gazette's website since before the shooting, but is available in court documents.
The story was written by Capital Gazette staff writer Eric Thomas Hartley was titled Jarrod wants to be your friend and included details of Ramos' case. Ramos reached out to the woman, who was not name in the story, "out of the blue" to thank her for "being the only person to ever say hello or be nice to him in high school."
The woman didn't know who Ramos was, but she responded and began a friendly, if awkward, email exchange. Ramos apparently divulged information about personal problems and the woman suggested he see a counselor and thought she was being kind.
But her suggestion "sparked months of emails in which Ramos alternately asked for help, called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself," the article states. Ramos also "emailed her company
and tried to get her fired."
The harassment went on for several months, eventually ending in Ramos' conviction and 90-day suspended sentence. And afterward, he directed his anger towards the Capital Gazette for printing the story about him.
In 2012, Ramos sued Hartley and his newspaper for defamation. But during a hearing on March 29, 2013, Judge Maureen M. Lamasney threw out the case.
"At the motion hearing, Judge Lamasney probed the appellant to point out a single statement in the article that was actually false or to give a single example of how he had been harmed by the article," court documents state. "He could not do so."
Ramos took his anger to Twitter, where he appeared to have created an account to expand his harassment to Hartley and the Maryland courts. And in one tweet dated Jan. 16, 2015, Ramos tweeted about the Jan. 7 terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in France.
Ramos later appealed Lamasney's decision. But on September 17, 2015, the Lamasney's decision was affirmed in the Maryland Court of Appeals.
"[Ramos] wanted equal coverage of his side of the story. He wanted a chance to put the victim in a bad light, in order to justify and explain why he did what he did. That, however,is not the function of defamation law," wrote Judge Charles E. Moylan, Jr.
But Ramos didn't give up. Instead, on his Twitter account, he appeared to have expanded his online harassment to include Moylan.
Ramos stopped tweeting after January 2016. But just before the shooting at the Capital Gazette, Ramos tweeted: "[expletive] you, leave me alone," and tagged a fake account purporting to belong to Moylan.
Ramos reportedly had a degree in computer engineering and worked for the bureau of Labor Statistics prior to 2013.
He was arrested by the Anne Arundel Police Department and remains in custody. Charges were not released as of Thursday night.