The Slatest

Alleged Annapolis Newspaper Shooter Had History of Harassment, Sued Paper for Defamation

Police handout of suspected Annapolis shooter, 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos.
Police handout of suspected Annapolis shooter, 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos.

Multiple news outlets are reporting the alleged shooter at an Annapolis, Maryland newspaper Thursday is 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos from nearby Laurel, Maryland. Ramos has a history with the small town Capital newspaper: He tried to sue the paper’s publisher, an editor, and reporter in 2012 for defamation, but the case was thrown out by the judge. In the opinion, Ramos was described by his lawyer as having a computer engineering degree and having worked at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for six years at the time.

The suit itself came after Ramos contacted what he said was an old high school classmate on Facebook and attempted to forge a relationship. The woman, after initially sensing Ramos was having difficulty, responded to his messages, but later cut off contact after he became abusive. Later, she called the police on Ramos and ultimately went to court to get a restraining order. Ramos stopped contacting the woman temporarily before restarting the abuse. A staff writer at the Capital, Eric Thomas Hartley, wrote a story for the paper about the woman’s ordeal headlined: “Jarrod Wants to Be Your Friend.”

“’I just thought I was being friendly,’ [the woman] said… That sparked months of emails in which Ramos alternately asked for help, called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself. He emailed her company and tried to get her fired.

 But when it seemed to me that it was turning into something that gave me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, that he seems to think there’s some sort of relationship here that does not exist … “I tried to slowly back away from it, and he just started getting angry and vulgar to the point I had to tell him to stop,” she told the judge.

 “And he was not OK with that. He would send me things and basically tell me, ‘You’re going to need restraining order now.’ ‘You can’t make me stop. I know all these things about you.’ “I’m going to tell everyone about your life.” “An email in April 2010 said, ‘Have another drink and go hang yourself, you cowardly little lush. Don’t contact you again? I don’t give a (expletive). (Expletive) you.’

Ramos filed suit against Hartley and the Capital alleging defamation and invasion of privacy, saying that Hartley’s reporting that he pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal harassment was false and injurious. Ramos provided no supporting evidence in the case and offered no evidence the claim, which was a matter of public record, was in any way false.

Ramos continued to pursue the paper’s staff on social media long after the case was dismissed. “A Twitter page in Ramos’ name on Thursday featured Hartley’s picture as its avatar, and a banner image included photographs of Marquardt and the Capital’s former owner Philip Merrill,” according to the Baltimore Sun. “The page’s bio read: ‘Dear reader: I created this page to defend myself. Now I’m suing the s— out of half of AA County and making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.’” There were numerous posts that hinted at violence or threatened it explicitly on his timeline. Then the account went silent for over two years from June 2016 until Thursday, just moments before the shooting.