BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Investigators say the Capital Gazette shooting suspect had a longstanding grudge against the newspaper.
Jarrod Ramos sued after the Annapolis-based paper reported accurately on his guilty plea to charges of harassing a woman he went to high school with. His defamation case was dismissed.
The attorney who represented the woman Ramos harassed is now speaking out.
“He was as angry an individual as I have ever seen,” said lawyer Brennan McCarthy.
McCarthy said Ramos tormented his client for years.
[Reporter: She lost her job because of him?]
“She lost her job because of this individual. He is malevolent. He forwarded a letter to her employer, basically stating that she was bipolar and a drunkard, which is ridiculous,” he said.
McCarthy said the harassment and stalking began around 2009 after they became friends on Facebook. In 2011, she took him to court, where he pleaded guilty to criminal harassment and was placed on 18-months probation.
Five days later, the Capital Gazette wrote a story titled, “Jarrod Wants To Be Your Friend.” It outlined Ramos’ alleged erratic behavior, including emails he allegedly sent, telling McCarthy’s client, “Go hang yourself,” “You’re going to need a restraining order now,” and “You can’t make me stop.”
“Mr. Ramos was obsessively angry about this particular story,” McCarthy said.
Ramos sued the paper for defamation in 2012. The case was later dismissed on appeal. According to court documents, the judge said, “There is nothing” to prove and “anything that was published” was in fact false.
“I, for one, received what I considered to be a death threat,” said Tom Marquardt, former Capital Gazette editor and publisher.
Marquardt was The Capital’s executive editor at the time of the article. He said he went to police about Ramos’ threat but was told nothing could be done.
“I feared for my life. I feared for my family’s life and I feared for my staff’s life,” he said.
A Twitter page believed to belong to Ramos has hundreds of angry tweets going back to 2011 about his case, the paper and even McCarthy. Ramos’ most recent tweet, just hours before the shooting, was directed at the judge who dismissed his defamation case.
“He wanted to get revenge,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said Thursday, when he heard about the shooting at the Capital newspaper, he immediately thought of Ramos.
“I knew who did it. He did it,” McCarthy said.
[Reporter: You’ve said it was inevitable.]
“It was inevitable he was going to do something violent. The only question was, who would he get first?” he said.
Ramos has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five Capital Gazette employees.