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5 dead, 2 injured after shooting at Maryland newspaper; Suspect ID’d

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A shooter killed five people Thursday and wounded two others at a newspaper in Maryland and was taken into custody, according to officials.

The Baltimore Sun, which owns the Annapolis newspaper, says a reporter told them of the shooting Thursday afternoon. Around 1:45 p.m., Anthony Messenger, an intern at the newspaper tweeted for help.

The suspect was identified as Jarrod Warren Ramos, according to multiple law enforcement sources. Police were outside an address connected to Ramos in Laurel, Md.

Ramos has a connection to the paper, the sources said. He filed a defamation claim in 2012 against the paper but the case was dismissed.

The suspected gunman was found hiding under a desk in the building, Anne Arundel County Executive Steven Schuh told CNN.

Initially the shooter was identified a white male in his 30s. They said no gunfire was exchanged between police and the shooter. The gunman used a "long gun" according to police.

Police say the shooting was a "targeted attack on The Capital Gazette."

Bill Krampf is the acting police chief for Anne Arundel County. Krampf says the shooter used canisters of smoke grenades when he entered.

He says five people were killed and two injured in the attack. He described the two injuries as superficial. The victims were identified as Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara. Smith was a sales assistant at the newspaper. The other four were journalists. 

A law enforcement official says the suspect mutilated his fingers in what investigators think was an effort to prevent him from being easily identified.

The official was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official says investigators believe the suspect was attempting to prevent them from getting a fingerprint match.

The official says that investigators have nonetheless been able to identify the man, though it was not immediately clear how.

Anne Arundel County Police Lt. Ryan Frashure also told a news conference that police recovered what they believe to be an explosive device from the building.

He said the device "was taken care of," but didn't elaborate. He says authorities don't believe there are any other explosives at the site.

A crime reporter at the newspaper tweeted while he waited to be interviewed by police. Phil Davis said the gunman shot through a glass door to an office and opened fire on employees.

"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 a tweet.

Anne Arundel police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers had raced to the scene, arriving 60 seconds, and engaged the shooter.

Arminta Plater, a spokeswoman for a hospital near the newspaper, said two patients had arrived there but she did not know their conditions.

People could be seen leaving the building with their hands up, as police urged them to depart through a parking lot and officers converged.

In an interview with The Capital Gazette's online site, Davis said it "was like a war zone" inside the newspaper's offices — a situation that would be "hard to describe for a while."

"I'm a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time," he said. "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."

Davis told the paper 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," he said.

A gas station employee near the shooting scene described a flood of police activity in the area as he sat tight inside his still-open workplace.

In a phone interview, Carlos Wallace, who works just down the street from the newspaper's offices, said law enforcement vehicles and ambulances had raced toward the scene with sirens blaring.

"The road is blocked off real good. It's like dozens of dozens of emergency vehicles, police cars of all types, explosive vehicles, battering ram vehicles, all kinds of stuff," Wallace said at about 3:50 p.m. Thursday.

The newspaper is part of Capital Gazette Communications, which also publishes the Maryland Gazette and CapitalGazette.com. It is part of the Baltimore Sun Media Group.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement saying he was "absolutely devastated" at the tragedy. Officials said President Donald Trump had been briefed on it. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Waters told reporters, "our thoughts and prayers are with all that are affected."

Trump tweeted after hearing about the shooting. He thanked first responders who were on the scene.

Conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos says he was joking when he told two reporters that he couldn't wait "for the vigilante squads to start gunning down journalists on sight."

He said Thursday that he texted that comment to reporters at the New York Observer and The Daily Beast essentially as a way to get them off his back, and that they were responsible for taking his comments seriously and spreading it.

In a Facebook post, he expressed no sympathy to journalists involved in Thursday's shooting. Rather, he described journalists who spread his comment about vigilante squads as "vermin."