Politics

Capital Gazette Shooter Sent Threatening Letters That May Have Foreshadowed His Motives

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Vandana Rambaran Political Reporter

Three days prior to the deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette on Thursday, the alleged gunman mailed three letters to varying parties involved in a former defamation case warning he had “the objective of killing every person present,” at the newsroom, according to Anne Arundel County police on Monday.

The letter was sent to the attorney for the Annapolis newspaper, Brennan McCarthy; retired Judge Charles Moylan Jr., an appeals judge in the defamation case the shooter had filed against The Capital; as well as to Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals who threw out the case in 2016, Anne Arundel County police said on Monday.

McCarthy’s letter, which was predated for June 28, the day of the shooting that killed five staff members at the Capital, instructed the lawyer to share the letter with Thomas Marquardt, a former editor of the paper, according to reports by the Baltimore Sun.

Current editor Rick Hutzell notified his staff of the letter on June 25 and told them not to open their own mail before it was reviewed by the company.

The alleged shooter, Jarrod Ramos, pleaded guilty to criminal harassment in 2011 and served 18 months of probation after he stalked a former high school classmate. (RELATED: Woman Details Years Of Harassment By Capital Gazette Shooter)

The Capital published a column about the case, prompting Ramos to sue the author, the editor of the paper, and the publishing company as well for defamation in 2012 but to no avail. Ramos represented himself and continued to sue numerous judges and lawyers who pushed back against his suits.

Moylan wrote an opinion of the case after upholding the lower court’s decision, siding with the newspaper and asserting that Ramos demonstrated a “fundamental failure to understand what defamation law is and, more particularly, what defamation law is not.”

In his threatening letter, Ramos wrote in the style of a “Motion for Reconsideration” and admonished the court for not taking his side, saying that Moylan “should have died” as a result of his decision.

“One of the primary reasons for developing the tort law of defamation was to induce the defamed person to resort to the courts for relief instead of wreaking his own vengeance,” he wrote. “You were too cowardly to confront the lies, and this is your receipt.”

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