The Annapolis, Maryland, gunman who opened fire at the offices of the Capital and Gazette local newspapers, killing five people, has been named as 38-year-old Anne Arundel County resident Jarrod Ramos, according to reports by NBC News on Thursday evening. Court documents posted online show that Ramos sued a staff writer at the newspaper, Eric Thomas Hartley, in 2013. Ramos, in the lawsuit, claimed that Hartley had defamed him in an article for the The Capital newspaper.
Disturbingly, Ramos had a Twitter account in his own name, but which used a photo of Hartley rather than a photo of himself. He posted a disturbing message to the account just three minutes before he fired the first shots at the Capital Gazette offices on Thursday.
Ramos was also apparently a supporter of Donald Trump, appearing in one Twitter post to threaten the Capital Gazette newspaper company that referring to Trump as "unqualified" could "end badly" for the paper, according to Casey Michel, a reporter for the Think Progress site.
The Capital's former editor told The Los Angeles Times that he predicted that Ramos could become violent due to his extreme vendetta against the paper.
"He waged a one-person attack on anything he could muster in court against the Capital," said Tom Marquardt. "I said during that time, 'This guy is crazy enough to come in and blow us all away,'"
The Hartley article on Ramos said that in 2011, Ramos had undertaken a year-long campaign of stalking and harassing a woman he had known in high school, but with whom he had recently reconnected via Facebook, according to the article which was reproduced in the court documents.The article, which said that Ramos was "a federal employee," also said that he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge. Information posted by a Twitter user showing Ramos' booking photo from the Anne Arundel police department can be seen above on this page.
According to Hartley's article, even though Ramos and the woman had not seen each other since high school and did not meet again until a court appearance, Ramos made vulgar comments about her online, told her to "go hang yourself" and sent an email to her boss at a local bank attempting to get her fired.
On his Twitter account, there were no tweets since January of 2016 until Thursday, the day of the shooting, when he posted a single line message that read simply, "F*** You, leave me alone @judgemoylanfrnd."
The @judgemoylanfrnd account appears to have been created by Ramos to ridicule a Maryland judge.
That judge appears to be Charles E. Moylan, who is named in the court documents as a retired judge who was "specially assigned" to the Ramos lawsuit. A picture of Moylan on the phony Twitter page contains a symbol of two interlocking diamond shapes that also appears on Ramos' own Twitter page, over a picture of Hartley, which Ramos had used as his avatar.
In 2015, Ramos posted a vague threat at Hartley on Twitter, saying, "Eric Thomas Hartley knows from experience, but doesn't appreciate how bad it can get. Journalist Hell awaits."
Hartley no longer works at the Capital newspaper. As of 2016, he was a reporter for the Virginian Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia, and even once wrote a column with the title, "Why I Am a Journalist."
The extent of Ramos' support of Trump is not clear, but Trump, as the Brookings Institute chronicled, has repeatedly referred to the news media as an "enemy of the people."
A CNN journalist in attendance at a Trump rally in South Carolina said he was accosted by Trump supporters there, one of whom warned him to "tone down" his questions of Trump, or "we're going to end up with a civil war." The reporter, Jim Acosta, also said that Trump supporters yelled profanities at him, and called him "scum."
Asked by reporters on Thursday if he believed his violent anti-media rhetoric may have motivated the Annapolis shooter, he walked away without answering, CNN reported. Later in the day, Trump posted a Twitter message expressing "thoughts and prayers" for the shooting victims and thanking first responders.