ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A gunman opened fire in a targeted attack on a newspaper office in Maryland’s capital Thursday, killing five people and wounding others before being taken into custody in what appeared to be one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history, police and witnesses said.
Police said the suspect was a white man in his late 30s whose rampage at The Capital Gazette followed social media threats directed at the newspaper. Authorities said the man entered the building and “looked for his victims.” He threw smoke grenades and fired a shotgun at his victims, according to Anne Arundel County Acting Police Chief William Krampf.
“This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm,” Krampf said.
Krampf declined to identify the suspect but said he was a Maryland resident and search warrants were being sought for his home.
“A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead,” he wrote.
Davis added: “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”
Gunman Mutilated Fingers To Conceal Identity
The attacker had mutilated his fingers in an apparent attempt to make it harder to identify him, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity. Another official who also spoke on condition of anonymity said investigators identified the man using facial recognition technology.
The shooting prompted New York City police to immediately tighten security at news organizations in the nation’s media capital.
At the White House, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: “There is no room for violence, and we stick by that. Violence is never tolerated in any form, no matter whom it is against.”
Shooter Believed To Have Used Shotgun
The gunman is believed to have used a shotgun, according to a U.S. official who was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the gunman was not cooperating with investigators.
The New York Police Department immediately deployed counterterrorism teams to news organizations around the city in a move police said was prompted not by any specific threat but was instead done as a precaution. Police could be seen outside The New York Times, ABC News and Fox News early in the evening.
Officers Responded in 60 Seconds
In Maryland, police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers raced to the scene, arriving in 60 seconds, and engaged the shooter.
At least two patients were taken to a nearby hospital; their condition was not immediately released.
People could be seen leaving the newspaper building with their hands up as police cars and other emergency vehicles converged on the scene.
“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.”
Davis told the paper he and others were still hiding under their desks when the shooter stopped firing.
“I don’t know why. I don’t know why he stopped,” he said.
The newspaper is part of Capital Gazette Communications, which also publishes the Maryland Gazette and CapitalGazette.com.