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2018 crime: Violence touches a school, a newsroom, a warehouse in Maryland

While Baltimore often makes national headlines for its high homicide rate, some of the worst violence in Maryland in 2018 played out elsewhere.

A Southern Maryland high school. An Annapolis newspaper office. A Harford County warehouse. A Perry Hall neighborhood.

“We all try to make sense of something so senseless. It’s just not there, it’s not going to happen,” said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler, whose office saw yet another deadly mass shooting within its boundaries, when police said a temporary employee at a Rite Aid distribution center near Aberdeen fatally shot three co-workers and injured three others before killing herself.

The September incident followed another deadly workplace shooting in the county the year before, when three workers were killed and two others injured at a kitchen countertop company in Edgewood. And in 2016, two sheriff’s deputies were fatally shot by a man who entered a Panera Bread in Abingdon before the man was killed by authorities following a chase.

“We’re learning as a society these threats are out there,” Gahler said in an interview this month.

The violence across the state this past year prompted many schools, workplaces and police departments to review how they respond to reports of an active shooter. Such incidents have made more people vigilant, but also left questioning the motives behind seemingly random attacks.

“Four years ago we may have done active shooting training or a self-defense class upon on request. I can’t even say if we did any the first year I was in office,” Gahler said. “But since we’ve had these events in Harford County, last year we’ve trained more than 7,000 community members.

“That number just keeps continuing to increase. We’re almost to the point where we are inundated with so many requests on training on how to respond to an active-assailant situation.”

Police said they do not know why Snochia Moseley, 26, a temporary employee at the Rite Aid distribution center, fatally shot three co-workers and injured three others before killing herself.

More from the 2018 Year in Review »

It was one of three workplace shootings in the U.S. in a 24-hour span.

Police say Moseley left work to return to her Baltimore County home, where she retrieved a gun. After returning to work, she fatally shot Sunday Aguda, a 45-year-old man from Dundalk outside the warehouse. Once inside, police said Moseley shot five more people before shooting herself in the head.

Brindra Giri, a 41-year-old wife and mother from Baltimore County, and Hayleen Reyes, a 21-year-old mother from Baltimore City, were also fatally shot. Three men were shot and survived.

Gahler said members of Moseley’s family told authorities that she was becoming more and more agitated in the weeks leading up to the shooting. Detectives also found “evidence” in her White Marsh home that showed she was suffering from a mental illness, Gahler said.

“In this case, we’re always going to wonder what that trigger was,” Gahler said. “I think that there were probably a lot of indicators that unfortunately didn’t come to the right attention or enough attention ahead of time, but a lot of people are a lot more more watchful today.”

On June 28, police said a man who had a long-standing grudge against the Capital Gazette newspaper blasted his way into its Annapolis newsroom and killed five staffers.

Jarrod Ramos is charged in the killings of editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; editor and sports writer John McNamara, 56; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant. Two other staff members were injured during the attack.

Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare said that police found evidence at Ramos’ apartment that he had planned the attack.

Ramos’ trial is scheduled for June 3.

In Baltimore County, four teenagers are scheduled to be tried next year for the death of county police officer Amy Caprio, who police say was fatally struck by a stolen Jeep driven by one of the teens on May 21.

Police say Darrell Ward, then 15; Derrick Matthews, 16; and Eugene Genius IV, then 17, were burglarizing homes in Perry Hall while Dawnta Harris, 16, waited in the Jeep. Caprio arrived to the cul-de-sac to investigate a suspicious vehicle when she pursued the Jeep, police said.

Caprio attempted to pull the Jeep over, and got out of her police cruiser and ordered Harris to get out of the vehicle. Police said Harris then struck her with the Jeep and drove from the scene. Caprio died at a hospital a short time later.

All four teenagers were charged as adults with first-degree murder and other counts, and are being held until trial. State law allows authorities to file murder charges against co-defendants in a crime in which someone is killed.

On March 20, a shooting at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County shook the close-knit community about 90 minutes south of Baltimore. Police say 17-year-old student Austin Wyatt Rollins walked into the school with his father’s pistol and shot classmate Jaelynn Willey, 16, once in the head. That bullet also struck 14-year-old Desmond Barnes in the leg.

Rollins continued walking through the school when he was confronted by school resource officer Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill. Their weapons went off simultaneously just after 8 a.m., officials said, with Rollins fatally shooting himself in the head and Gaskill shooting the boy in the hand.

Willey died two days later.

Hundreds from the community gathered to mourn Willey, a loving sister and dedicate swimmer, and to try to comprehend the tragedy. Following the shooting, state and local officials praised the school resource officer’s actions, which they said might have prevented additional victims.

The shooting came just one month after 17 students and staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The weekend after the shooting, a number of Great Mills students joined an anti-gun violence demonstration, March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. A group of Great Mills students also traveled to Parkland, Fla. to meet with other student survivors.

After each tragedy, Gahler said, there can be something learned, something improved.

“There’s always a lesson to be learned,” he said. “Certainly our agency, when you live through something, you experience it, you learn how to address it more efficiently, more effectively the next time.”

jkanderson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/janders5

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