Update 7:30a.m.: The gunman has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. He is said to have been motivated by a grudge against the newspaper since 2011 when Eric Hartley, a Capital Gazette columnist, wrote about a criminal harassment case against him. He sued the paper and columnist for defamation but lost the case. Neither Hartley nor the publisher at the time is still with the Gazette.
“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf stated. “This person was prepared today to come in. He was prepared to shoot people.”
Update 5:44p.m.: An object believed to be an explosive device was discovered in the Capital Gazette newsroom following the shooting, according to local authorities. The suspect at first refused to identify himself and damaged his fingerprints to make it more difficult for police to identify him, CBS News reports.
Five people were shot and killed and several others were “gravely injured” in an attack on the newsroom of the Annapolis, Md. Capital Gazette Thursday afternoon, local police confirmed. The shooter, a 38-year-old Laurel man, is currently in custody and used a shotgun in the attack.
Anne Arundel County Police arrived on scene within 60 seconds of the gunman entering the building. The shooter surrendered immediately upon their arrival, according to NBC News.
Phil Davis, a Gazette reporter, said the “gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees” in a tweet sent moments after the incident. “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” he wrote.
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, which owns the Gazette, Davis described the newsroom as “a war zone,” and said it would be “hard to describe for a while.”
“I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time,” he said. “But as much as I’m going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don’t know until you’re there and you feel helpless.”
Maryland governor Larry Hogan tweeted, “Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.”
President Trump said on Twitter that he had been briefed on the situation. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene,” he said.
“This is a newspaper we live with every day,” said Susan O’Brien, a spokesperson for the city of Annapolis. “Our hearts are with the family.”