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Capital Gazette gunman given five life sentences for deadly shooting

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Jarrod Ramos, the man found guilty of killing five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland, has been given five life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole.

Ramos, 41, had carefully planned the attack, which was one of the deadliest on journalists in US history. The shooting spree followed years of an online campaign against the newspaper, with Ramos even filing a lawsuit – unhappy with coverage of his misdemeanour charge for harassing a former high school classmate over social media.

In the 2011 Gazette column which sparked Ramos’ ire, then-employee Eric Hartley described Ramos as a US Bureau of Labor Statistics employee with no previous criminal record and a degree in computer engineering.

Jarrod Ramos

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Jarrod Ramos

(Anne Arundel Police)

Mr Hartley was not among the victims when a heavily-armed Ramos walked into the Annapolis newsroom on June 28, 2018. He killed Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, wounding two others.

In the days following the attack, the newspaper’s former publisher, Thomas Marquardt, told the Baltimore Sun he’d previously consulted authorities over concerns about Ramos.

“I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence,” said Mr Marquardt, who by that time was retired and living in Florida. “I even told my wife, ‘We have to be concerned. This guy could really hurt us.’ ”

Mr Marquardt said he called the Anne Arundel County police about Ramos in 2013 and considered obtaining a restraining order but ultimately decided not to do so.

“I remember telling our attorneys, ‘This is a guy who is going to come in and shoot us,’ ” he told the Baltimore Sun.

Ramos pleaded guilty in 2019 but his lawyers attempted to enter an insanity plea. A jury in July found that the Maryland man could still be held criminally responsible, however – and he will now spend the rest of his life in prison.

The attack shook newsrooms across the country and the world to their core. The paper remained defiant despite the tragedy, tweeting just hours after Ramos stormed the building that “Yes, we are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”

The date of the incident has been dedicated in Maryland as Freedom of the Press Day, and a memorial to the victims now stands in Annapolis featuring pillars representing the five dead and a plaque of the First Amendment.

Paul Gillespie, a photojournalist at the newspaper, said after the jury’s July decision that he hoped Ramos would get the five life sentences he was handed today. Mr Gillespie suffers from PTSD, anxiety and depression since the 2018 attack and testified in court about shots flying by him on that terrifying day.

“He’s evil; he’s not crazy,” he said when the jury decided Ramos could be held criminally responsible. “He deserves to be in prison.”

Andrea Chamblee, the widow of murdered Gazette journalist John McNamara, told DC station WTOP in July: “I think when people talk about the five victims of this violent crime, you can look around and see there’s a lot more than five. … There are a lot of people who couldn’t be here today because they have to choke on their own words when they talk about this horrific crime.”

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