(Reuters) - The 38-year-old man suspected of killing five people at the offices of a Maryland newspaper group on Thursday had a long-running feud with the Capital Gazette, attacking the Annapolis-based family of publications in the courts and on social media.
Law enforcement sources told the Capital Gazette that police had identified the suspect as Jarrod Warren Ramos, a resident of Laurel, Maryland, who sued the newspaper and one of its journalists in 2012, alleging defamation.
Almost a year earlier, Thomas Hartley, a former columnist for The Capital, one of the group’s papers, wrote a column describing the suspect’s interactions with an unnamed woman Ramos contacted over Facebook, court documents showed. Hartley said Ramos sent her numerous emails in which he called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself.
The lawsuit named Hartley, its then editor-publisher Thomas Marquardt, and Capital-Gazette Communications, then the parent company of the paper.
Ramos had pled guilty to criminal harassment five days before Hartley published his column, records showed. He claimed in court documents that his perspective was not fairly represented. His lawsuit was dismissed in 2013, and an appellate court upheld the dismissal in 2015.
As the case made its way through the courts, a Twitter user calling himself Jarrod W. Ramos posted numerous tweets critical of the Capital Gazette, Hartley and the Maryland judges.
“Yes, Eric Thomas Hartley, you moved to ... oh just go ahead and kill yourself already before I do (legally in court),” the user tweeted in 2014.
The account went silent from January 2016 until Thursday, just before the shooting at the Capital Gazette.
A 2015 court document quoted Ramos’ lawyer as saying that Ramos had worked for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for six years.
Reporting by Diana Kruzman Editing by Frank McGurty, Toni Reinhold