The mass shooting that left five people dead and two injured at the Annapolis, MD-based Capital Gazette offices last week left the area’s residents and law enforcement personnel reeling. The gunman, identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, barricaded an exit to trap staffers inside the building, used smoke grenades to increase confusion, and carried a legally purchased shotgun as his weapon.
That Ramos chose the newspaper office as a target was no surprise to many who knew the man’s history. A woman, who spoke to the Today show only as “Lori,” says she has lived in fear of Ramos for years due to stalking and harassment. According to the Independent, she had told police that Ramos would be their “next mass shooter.”
“As soon as they said it happened at The Capital newspaper and they couldn’t identify their suspect, I picked up the phone and said, ‘I know who your suspect is,'” Lori said. “I knew if he was to do anything on a mass shooting level, it was going to target The Capital.”
Threats had reportedly been made by Ramos against the newspaper five years before but had been dismissed at the time, according to NBC 4 Washington.
Lori says Ramos stalked and harassed her for over a year after he initially reached out “as a friend” who had gone to Arundel High with her. She replied politely, but things soon took a dark turn as Ramos’ communique went from friendly to fear-inducing.
On social media Ramos repeatedly told her to kill herself, and said she needed a restraining order. He also called and emailed her job in efforts to get her fired; Lori attributes her subsequent firing to Ramos’ harassment of her at work.
Eventually, Ramos was arrested. He pled guilty to misdemeanor criminal harassment in 2011, receiving a suspended sentence and probation from District Court Judge Jonas Legum, who viewed Ramos as “bizarre.” Ramos was also ordered to have no further contact with Lori.
The Capital Gazette had covered Lori’s story, running it under the headline, “Jarrod wants to be your friend.” This turned Ramos’ focus towards the paper. He filed a lawsuit for defamation against the paper in 2012 (the suit was subsequently dismissed in 2015) and continued to target the paper and its employees.
Meanwhile, Lori moved out of the Annapolis area, saying she still didn’t feel safe.
“I was afraid he could show up at any point, any place… and kill me,” she told NBC.
Brennan McCarthy, the lawyer who represented Lori in 2011, said he never came across any person who frightened him as much as Ramos.
“Of the thousands of people I’ve dealt with in court, this guy stuck,” McCarthy told USA Today. “I was extremely scared that he was going to do something to me and my family.”
Ramos, 38, remains held without bond after being charged last Friday with five counts of first-degree murder.