Anne Arundel County prosecutors filed an indictment Friday charging Capital Gazette shooting suspect Jarrod Ramos with 23 counts in last month’s rampage at the Annapolis newsroom.
Ramos, 38, is now accused of attempted murder, assault and weapons offenses in addition to five counts of first-degree murder. If convicted of any of the murder charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Ramos is accused of blasting his way into the Capital Gazette offices on June 28 with a shotgun and shooting five staff members to death. Police say they found him hiding under a desk in the newsroom after the attack.
Beyond the new charges, the indictment provided no new details about the allegations against Ramos or any evidence prosecutors have gathered. The filing of an indictment is a largely procedural step that moves the case to Circuit Court, where Ramos could stand trial. His first court date was set for July 30.
Ramos’ public defender, William Davis, declined to comment.
The Capital Gazette is owned by the Baltimore Sun Media Group. Spokeswoman Renee Mutchnik said the group’s is focused on the well being of its staff and the families of the victims.
“The indictment by the Anne Arundel County prosecutor’s office is an important step in the recovery process,” Mutchnik said. “We understand this is just the beginning and will continue to work with investigators.”
Ramos is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Rob Hiaasen, 59, an assistant editor and columnist for the Capital Gazette; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a longtime sports writer; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant.
Prosecutors say Ramos attempted to murder Capital Gazette photographer Paul W. Gillespie. Gillespie told The Baltimore Sun this week that he believes Ramos shot at him as he fled the newsroom.
Ramos is also charged with assaulting Gillespie and other survivors of the attack: reporters Selene San Felice, Phil Davis and Rachael Pacella, sales consultant Janel Cooley and intern Anthony Messenger.
Ramos is charged with using a firearm in commission of a crime of violence against all 11 victims.
State’s attorney Wes Adams will prosecute the case with assistants Jason Knight and Aaron L. Meyers, his office said.
Ramos has been held without bail at the Jennifer Road Detention Center since his arrest.
The shootings three weeks ago shattered the routine at the Annapolis newspaper. But since then, staff have continued to produce a print edition and online updates every day, with the help of journalists from The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, NPR and other news organizations. The aid is expected to continue until September at least.
A pair of funds created in honor of the victims have received donations totaling about $685,000.
Ramos lived in Laurel and worked for a time as a government IT contractor. He nurtured a grudge against The Capital since at least 2011, when a columnist wrote of his guilty plea for harassing a former high school classmate. Ramos unsuccessfully brought a defamation suit against the columnist, the newspaper’s publisher and its then-owner. He taunted its reporters and editors on Twitter.
The former classmate obtained a series of peace orders against Ramos and ultimately fled Maryland. Neither the orders nor his guilty plea prevented him from legally buying the shotgun that police say he used in the attack.
After a final ruling by the state’s top court ended the defamation case in 2016, Ramos’ public taunts and threats ceased.
On the day of the shooting, police say, he filed new papers in the court case and mailed out fresh threats. A judge sealed the legal filing at the request of prosecutors so they could use it as part of their investigation. They said it shows evidence of his involvement in the attack and his mental state at the time.
In a document written in the style of a court filing in Ramos’ name and dated the day of the attack, the writer said he was on the way to Capital Gazette’s offices “with the objective of killing every person present.”
As the gunfire began, survivors say, Winters confronted the attacker — an act Pacella says saved her life.
Gillespie said he hid under the desk next to his, coming within a few feet of the intruder. He waited for a lull in the shooting and ran.
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“I didn’t look back, but I did hear him chase me,” he said. “I did hear a gunshot. I did feel a breeze blow past my right side.”