The alleged killer of five Capital Gazette employees mailed three threatening letters to Maryland courthouses and a law firm before Thursday’s shooting at the Annapolis newspaper, Anne Arundel County police said Monday.
One of the letters opened Monday included a passage with a self-styled certification saying, “I further certify I then did proceed to the office of respondent Capital-Gazette Communications . . . with the objective of killing every person present,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
The existence of the letters was first reported on the websites for the Capital Gazette and the Sun, which owns the Annapolis outlet.
The letters came from suspected shooter Jarrod Ramos, Sgt. Jacklyn Davis, a county police spokeswoman, told The Washington Post on Monday night. They “were threatening in nature, but that’s all we can release right now” about their content, Davis said.
The letters were sent to the Baltimore City courthouse, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and a law firm, Davis said. She declined to say who specifically received them.
The Sun said the letters were dated June 28, the day of the shooting. Word of their arrival broke as the first of the memorial services for the five victims was getting underway Monday.
Ramos, 38, had a years-long legal battle with the Capital after losing a lawsuit against the newspaper claiming he had been defamed by a 2011 column about his harassment of a former high school classmate on social media. Ramos had pleaded guilty to the harassment of the woman.
By 2016, the courts had rejected the last rounds of his many appeals of the lawsuit over the column.
Ramos, who is being held without bond on five counts of murder, is accused of barricading a back exit to the newsroom before blasting through the front door of its office with a shotgun and killing five of the 11 employees who were there at about 3 p.m. Thursday.
According to the Sun’s account, at least one letter was opened Monday after being sent to the law office of the Capital Gazette’s former attorney, with instructions to share a copy with Thomas Marquardt, the newspaper’s former publisher. The Sun reported that the lawyer gave police the letter, which was reportedly signed with Ramos’s name and stated the intent to kill everyone present in the newsroom.
A court-appointed attorney for Ramos and the Office of the Public Defender declined to comment Monday afternoon on Ramos’s case because it is ongoing.
Killed in the rampage were Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. Fischman and Hiaasen were editors, McNamara was a reporter, Smith was a sales assistant, and Winters worked for special publications, according to the newspaper’s website.
The correspondence sent to the newspaper’s former attorney alsoincluded an attachment, the Sun reported, addressed to the judge who had written a sharp opinion against Ramos as part of the defamation case.
The letters, if proved to be from Ramos, would extend his lengthy fixation on the people associated with the case.
Three minutes before the gunfire, he tweeted an obscenity at a judge who had rejected his defamation suit against the paper.
Over a four-year span, from late 2011 to early 2016, Ramos waged a social media campaign against the Capital Gazette. He tweeted at the newspaper’s official account, @capgaznews, 149 times. He mentioned the name of the columnist — Eric Hartley — 101 times, and a dozen times named Marquardt.
Brennan McCarthy, who was the attorney for the woman who was cyberstalked for six years by Ramos, said Ramos was the most disturbing man he had encountered in years of practicing family and criminal law, and that he feared for the safety of his family and client.
“His whole attitude was menacing, physically and mentally. It was exhausting dealing with him. He attacked everything,” Brennan said Monday. “When I first saw Mr. Ramos, he was so madly intense. He was obsessed; he was extremely angry.”
He said Ramos tracked the former high school classmate online and tormented her for years. “Don’t ever say he’s insane,” McCarthy said. “He is malevolent. He likes to do evil.”
The extent of Ramos’s focus on the Capital Gazette column was evident in one of his many court filings.
In a 2012 case Ramos brought as his own attorney in Prince George’s County repeating his objections to the column, he quoted a conversation he said he had had with his psychotherapist.
“Are you enjoying life at all outside of this?” he said the therapist asked him.
To which Ramos said he “reflexively answered, ‘There is no life outside of this.’ ”
Lynh Bui contributed to this report.