Maryland man denied bail in newsroom rampage that killed five

A police car blocks the road in front of the Capital Gazette a day after a gunman opened fire at the newspaper, killing five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 29, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By Warren Strobel

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Reuters) – A Maryland man charged with rampaging through a newsroom in Annapolis with a pump-action shotgun and killing five people was denied bail on Friday after one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

Jarrod Ramos, suspected of killing five people at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018 is seen in this Anne Arundel Police Department booking photo provided June 29, 2018. Anne Arundel Police/Handout via REUTERS

Jarrod Ramos, suspected of killing five people at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018 is seen in this Anne Arundel Police Department booking photo provided June 29, 2018. Anne Arundel Police/Handout via REUTERS

Jarrod Ramos, 38, from Laurel, 25 miles (40 km) west of Annapolis, is not cooperating with investigators, authorities said, and did not speak as he appeared by video link from a detention facility for a brief court hearing at Anne Arundel County criminal court.

Ramos had a longstanding grudge against the newspaper that was targeted and unsuccessfully sued it for defamation in 2012 over an article that reported how he harassed a former high school classmate, court records showed.

He is accused of entering the Capital Gazette office on Thursday afternoon and opening fire through a glass door, hunting for victims and spraying the newsroom with gunfire as reporters hid under their desks and begged for help on social media. Prosecutors said he barricaded a back door to stop people from fleeing.

“The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could,” Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare told a news conference, adding that the suspect was identified using facial-recognition technology.

Altomare said evidence found at the suspect’s home showed he planned the attack, and that the pump-action 12 gauge shotgun used by the shooter was legally purchased about a year ago.

Rob Hiaasen, 59, Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara were shot and killed. All were journalists except for Smith who was a sales assistant, police said. Hiaasen was the brother of best-selling author Carl Hiaasen.

The Capital newspaper, part of the Gazette group, published an edition on Friday with photographs of each of the victims and a headline “5 shot dead at The Capital” on its front page.

The newspaper’s editors left the editorial page blank with a note saying that they were speechless.

Photographs that were widely shared on social media showed newspaper staffers working on laptops in a parking garage to produce Friday’s edition while they waited to learn the fate of colleagues after the shooting.


Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said he was so proud of the journalists who had “soldiered on.”

“These guys, they don’t make a lot of money. They do journalism because they love what they do. And they got a newspaper out today,” Buckley told Fox News.

A vigil for the victims was planned for 8:00 p.m. EDT on Friday. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff.

Ramos brought a defamation lawsuit in 2012 against Eric Hartley, a former staff writer and columnist with Capital Gazette, and Thomas Marquardt, then its editor and publisher, a court filing showed.

Neither Hartley nor Marquardt is still employed by the paper or were at its office on Thursday.

An article by Hartley had contended that Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment, according to a legal document.

The court agreed the article was accurate and based on public records, the document showed. In 2015 Maryland’s second-highest court upheld the ruling, rejecting Ramos’s suit.

Ramos tweeted at the time that he had set up a Twitter account to defend himself, and wrote in his biographical notes that he was suing people in Anne Arundel County and “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”

According to a WBAL-TV reporter who said she spoke with the woman who was harassed, Ramos became “fixated” with her for no apparent reason, causing her to move three times, change her name, and sleep with a gun.

Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter, recounted how he was hiding under his desk along with other newspaper employees when the shooter stopped firing, the Capital Gazette reported on its website.

The newsroom looked “like a war zone,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t know why he stopped.”

Authorities responded to the scene within a minute of the shooting, and Ramos was arrested while also hiding under a desk with the shotgun on the floor nearby, police said.

He will face either a preliminary court hearing or grand jury indictment within the next 30 days.

Capital Gazette runs several newspapers out of its Annapolis office. They include one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, The Gazette, which traces its origins back to 1727.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Doina Chiacu in Washington, and Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Factbox: Victims of mass shooting at Maryland newsroom

Emergency response vehicles drive near a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) – Five newspaper employees, four of them journalists, were killed on Thursday in a Maryland newsroom when a gunman opened fire in what police said was a targeted attack on the offices of the Capital Gazette group in Annapolis, the state capital.

Here are brief profiles of the victims, identified by law enforcement hours after the shooting:


Hiassen, 59, brother of best-selling author Carl Hiaasen, joined The Capital, the group’s flagship title, in 2010 as assistant editor after working as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun for 15 years. Before that, he was a staff reporter at the Palm Beach Post and news anchor and reporter for radio stations across the South.

The Fort Lauderdale native was also a columnist for The Capital, and his pieces appeared in the paper’s Life section every Sunday. According to the Baltimore Sun, he and his wife Maria, with whom he had three children, had celebrated their 33rd anniversary just days before he was killed.


The editor of the Bowie Blade-News and Crofton-West Country Gazette newspapers, McNamara worked for the Capital Gazette organization for more than two decades. An avid sports fan, he wrote extensively about the topic and was the author of two books about his alma mater, the University of Maryland, the Baltimore Sun said. A married man, he loved local history and enjoyed rock and folk music.


A reporter and columnist for The Capital, Winters had worked at the paper since 2002, often providing her own photos and video to accompany her stories. The New York native had worked as a public relations consultant for many years in addition to her journalism, according to her social media postings.

Winters, 65, was a “Navy mom” and a volunteer with the Girl Scouts and the Red Cross, according to her Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

On Facebook Winters described herself as having “Peter Pan DNA, blended with some extroverted introversion, sprinkled with proper punctuation marks and served half-baked with a Manhattan attitude.”


Fischman, 61, of Pasadena, Maryland, was the editor of the editorial page and worked at The Capital for over 25 years. According to the Baltimore Sun, Fischman was “the guardian against libel, the arbiter of taste and a peculiar and an endearing figure in a newsroom full of characters.”

Married to a Mongolian opera singer, Fischman graduated from the journalism school at the University of Maryland in 1979.


Smith, 34, recently joined the Capital Gazette as a sales assistant. She was described in a profile by the Baltimore Sun as being “thoughtful” and “kind and considerate.” A Baltimore native, she lived with her fiancé in east Baltimore County and worked in marketing before joining the Gazette.

(Reporting by Tea Kvetenadze in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty, Toni Reinhold)

Turkish newspaper staff remanded in custody over coup attempt links: CNN Turk

FILE PHOTO: Police officers carry security barriers in front of the Zaman newspaper headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey March 6, 2016. REUTERS/ Osman Orsal

ANKARA (Reuters) – A Turkish court has remanded in custody for another two months 21 of the 30 journalists and newspaper executives from Turkish newspaper Zaman which was shut down after last year’s failed coup, broadcaster CNN Turk said on Tuesday.

The former employees of the Zaman newspaper are charged with “membership of an armed terror organization” and “attempting to overthrow” the government, parliament and the constitutional order through their links to cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Zaman was affiliated with Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric and former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen is blamed by Ankara for instigating the failed July 2016 coup, but denies any involvement.

Zaman was first seized by the Turkish government in March 2016 before the coup attempt, and then closed down by a government decree.

The indictment calls for three consecutive life sentences for the Zaman staff on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, the Turkish parliament and the Turkish government, and says the newspaper exceeded the limits of press freedom and freedom of expression.

The 21 people remanded in custody had already been jailed for over a year pending trial. CNN Turk said the trial was postponed to Nov. 13.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ece Toksabay and Ken Ferris)

Turkish journalists go on trial accused of supporting terrorism

Journalists and press freedom activists release balloons during a demonstration in solidarity with the members of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet who were accused of supporting a terrorist group outside a courthouse, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 24, 2017.

By Can Sezer

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Prominent journalists and other staff at a Turkish opposition newspaper went on trial on Monday accused of supporting a terrorist group, in a case that critics of President Tayyip Erdogan consider attack on free speech.

“Journalism is not a crime,” chanted several hundred people gathered outside the central Istanbul court to protest against the prosecution of 17 writers, executives and lawyers of the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper.

The trial coincides with an escalating dispute with Germany over the arrest in Turkey of 10 rights activists, including one German, as part of a crackdown since last year’s attempted coup against Erdogan.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to 43 years in jail for newspaper staff accused of targeting Erdogan through “asymmetric war methods”.

“I am not here because I knowingly and willingly helped a terrorist organisation, but because I am an independent, questioning and critical journalist,” one of the defendants, columnist Kadri Gursel, told the court.

Gursel, who, along with editor Murat Sabuncu and other senior staff, has been in pre-trial detention for 267 days, was prevented from hugging his son in the courtroom by security guards, the newspaper said on its website.

The 324-page indictment alleges Cumhuriyet was effectively taken over by the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the failed putsch last July, and used to “veil the actions of terrorist groups”.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup.

The newspaper is also accused of writing stories that serve “separatist manipulation”.

Other defendants include Ahmet Sik, who once wrote a book critical of Gulen’s movement. Former editor Can Dundar, who is living in Germany, is being tried in absentia.

The newspaper has called the charges “imaginary accusations and slander”. Social media posts comprised the bulk of evidence in the indictment, along with allegations that staff had been in contact with users of Bylock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen’s followers.



“According to the government, everyone in opposition is a terrorist, the only non-terrorists are themselves,” Filiz Kerestecioglu, a member of parliament from the pro-Kurdish HDP opposition party, told reporters ahead of the trial.

Gursel, the columnist, denied he had links to Gulen’s movement, saying he had in the past revealed ties between Erdogan’s AK Party and the Gulen movement.

Erdogan has his roots in political Islam and was an ally of the cleric until a public falling-out in 2013.

“I exposed the current government’s de facto coalition with this group and I foresaw the harm that this sinister cooperation would do to the country,” he told the court.

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have complained of deteriorating human rights under Erdogan. In the crackdown since last July’s failed coup, 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 detained or dismissed from their jobs.

As part of the purge some 150 media outlets have been shut down and around 160 journalists are in jail, according to the Turkish Journalists’ Association.

The crackdown has strained Turkey’s ties with the European Union, but reaction from the bloc has been restrained because it depends on Turkey to curb the flow of migrants into Europe.

Europe’s leading power, Germany, has stepped up pressure in recent days, threatening measures that could hinder German investment in Turkey and reviewing Turkish applications for arms deals.

Turkish authorities say the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the coup attempt, in which rogue soldiers tried to overthrow the government and Erdogan, killing 250 people, most of them civilians.


(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)


Turkey targets opposition newspaper over suspected coup links

A man looks at newspapers at a kiosk in Diyarbakir, Turkey November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

By Humeyra Pamuk

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish authorities have issued arrest warrants for the owner and three employees of an opposition newspaper, a police source and the paper said on Friday, part of a continuing media crackdown that has alarmed rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies.

The four are accused of committing crimes on behalf of the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, they said. Gulen is blamed by Ankara for masterminding last July’s failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan, a charge he denies.

Turkish police carried out searches at the homes of the owner and the three employees of Sozcu newspaper, which is fiercely critical of Erdogan and his ruling AK Party, and also detained the paper’s internet editor, the police source said.

The paper’s owner is currently abroad, he added.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the charges against the four suspects included planning “the assassination of the President and physical assault” and “armed rebellion against the government of the Turkish Republic”.

Metin Yilmaz, editor-in-chief of the secularist, nationalist Sozcu, confirmed the police raids but denied the accusations, saying his paper had long criticized Gulen and his supporters.

“The only thing we do is journalism. But doing that in this country is a crime in itself,” he said in a statement published on the paper’s web site. “Writing the truth, criticizing and doing stories are all crimes.”

The investigation drew sharp criticism from Turkey’s main opposition party CHP. Its leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said the probe was “unacceptable”, while senior CHP lawmaker Ozgur Ozel said it aimed to silence all dissent.


Since the failed coup, Turkish authorities have shut more than 130 media outlets and a press union says more than 150 journalists have been jailed, raising concerns about media freedom in a country that aspires to join the European Union.

The arrest warrants for Sozcu came days after a court jailed the online editor of another opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, pending trial, on a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Around a dozen journalists from the paper, long a pillar of Turkey’s old secularist establishment, are already in jail facing sentences of up to 43 years in prison, accused of supporting Gulen’s network.

Turkey has also suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants and has arrested nearly 50,000 others suspected of links to the Gulen movement.

Turkish officials say the crackdown is necessary because the Gulen movement had set up a “state within a state” that threatened national security. They point to the gravity of last July’s coup, when rogue troops commandeered warplanes to bomb parliament and used tanks to kill 240 people.

But Erdogan’s critics in Turkey and abroad say he is using the coup to purge opponents and muzzle dissent. Last month he narrowly won a referendum that grants him sweeping new powers.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Turkey detains editor, top staff at opposition newspaper

Supporters of Cumhuriyet newspaper, an opposition secularist daily, hold today's copies during a protest in front of its headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey,

By Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish police detained the editor and senior staff of a leading opposition newspaper on Monday over its alleged support for a failed coup in July, in a move described by a top EU politician as the crossing of a red line against freedom of expression.

Updating earlier information on its website, Cumhuriyet newspaper said 11 staff including the editor were being held by authorities, and arrest warrants had been issued for five more.

Turkey’s crackdown since rogue soldiers tried to seize power on July 15 has alarmed Western allies and rights groups, who fear President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup attempt to crush dissent. More than 110,000 people have been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested over the past three and a half months.

The latest detentions came a day after 10,000 more civil servants were dismissed and 15 more media outlets shut down.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said the staff at the paper, one of few media outlets still critical of Erdogan, were suspected of committing crimes on behalf of Kurdish militants and the network of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric. Turkey accuses Gulen of orchestrating the coup attempt, in which he denies any involvement.

“An investigation was launched… due to allegations and assessments that shortly before the attempted coup, material was published justifying the coup,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Cumhuriyet said several of its staff had their laptops seized from their homes. Footage showed one writer, Aydin Engin, 75, being ushered by plain clothes police into a hospital for medical checks.

Asked by reporters to comment on his detention, Engin said: “I work for Cumhuriyet, isn’t that enough?”

Another veteran journalist, Kadri Gursel, who began writing for Cumhuriyet in May, said on Twitter that his house was being searched and that there was an arrest warrant for him.

Several hundred people gathered in front of Cumhuriyet’s Istanbul offices in support of the paper, chanting and holding banners that said “Journalism is not a crime” and “Sharp pens will tear through the dark”.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz wrote on Twitter that the detentions marked the crossing of ‘yet another red-line’ against freedom of expression in Turkey. “The ongoing massive purge seems motivated by political considerations, rather than legal and security rationale,” he said.

The government has said its measures are justified by the threat posed to the state by the coup attempt, in which more than 240 people were killed.

A court on Sunday also jailed, pending trial, the co-mayors of the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. The head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) called on opposition groups to stand together against a “tyrannical mentality”.

“We are facing a new phase in the coordinated oppression managed by the AKP headquarters to ensure no opposition remains,” Selahattin Demirtas told reporters. The AKP is the governing party.


Before turning himself in, veteran cartoonist Musa Kart told reporters outside Cumhuriyet’s offices that such means of pressure were not going to succeed in frightening people.

“This is a comical situation,” he said. “It is not possible for people with a conscience to accept this. You can’t explain this to the world. I am being detained solely for drawing caricatures.”

Cumhuriyet’s previous editor, Can Dundar, was jailed last year for publishing state secrets involving Turkey’s support for Syrian rebels. The case sparked censure from rights groups and Western governments worried about worsening human rights in Turkey under Erdogan.

Cumhuriyet said Dundar, who was freed in February and is now abroad, was one of those facing arrest.

“They are attacking ‘the last bastion’,” Dundar wrote on Twitter as news of the operation emerged. A month after the failed coup, Dundar told Reuters he feared the government would attempt to link him to the putsch.

Opposition groups say the purges are being used to silence all dissent in Turkey, a NATO member which aspires to membership of the European Union.

Since the attempted coup, 170 newspapers, magazines, television stations and news agencies have been shut down, leaving 2,500 journalists unemployed, Turkey’s journalists’ association said in a statement protesting the detentions.

“This operation is a new coup against freedom of expression and of the press,” it said, adding that 105 journalists were in jail pending trial and the press cards of 777 journalists had been canceled.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Mark Trevelyan)

Singapore bans newspaper linked to Islamic State

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore on Friday banned the distribution and possession of Al Fatihin, a newspaper linked to the Islamic State militant group, after government officials repeatedly warned against terror threats.

The wealthy city-state saw its first case of terrorism financing this month, with four Bangladeshi men jailed for terms ranging from two to five years for funding attacks in their South Asian homeland.

“The Singapore government has zero tolerance for terrorist propaganda and has therefore decided to prohibit Al Fatihin,” the Ministry of Communications and Information said in a statement.

Launched in the southern Philippines on June 20, the paper, whose name means “The Conqueror” in Arabic, is also distributed in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and southern Thailand, the Straits Times newspaper said this month.

“ISIS is a terrorist group which poses a serious threat to the security of Singapore,” the ministry added. “Al Fatihin is yet another step by ISIS to spread its propaganda abroad, with a clear intention to radicalize and recruit Southeast Asians.”

The newspaper is published in the Indonesian language, which is very close to Malay, Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore’s minister in charge of Muslim affairs, said in the statement.

Anyone convicted of possessing or distributing the newspaper faced a fine or imprisonment, or both, the statement added.

The fine can range up to S$10,000 ($7,380), and the jail term up to three years for a first offense, rising to four years for subsequent offences, the Straits Times newspaper said.

Al Fatihin is mainly distributed online, said Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

“I have not seen a printed version in Singapore,” Gunaratna told Reuters this month. “It is primarily directed at Indonesia and Malaysia. The number of potential supporters and sympathizers in Singapore is very small – insignificant.”

(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano and Marius Zaharia; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)