Man accused of killing 5 employees in newsroom shooting pleads guilty

Posted at 6:16 PM, Oct 29, 2019

Jarrod Ramos, the man accused of killing five employees at the Capital Gazette newspaper last year, pleaded guilty on Monday, days before his trial was to begin, a Maryland Judiciary spokeswoman told CNN.

Ramos pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible to all 23 counts, including murder, in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, according to spokeswoman Terri Charles.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Laura Ripken accepted Ramos’ plea, Charles said.

A jury must now decide whether Ramos is criminally responsible. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Wednesday and the trial is slated to start on Nov. 4, Charles said.

Ramos was indictedon first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder and assault and weapons charges one month after the shooting on June 28, 2018.

CNN has reached out to Ramos’ attorney and the Anne Arundel County district attorney.

Ramos allegedly stormed the Capital Gazette’s offices, killing Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

It was the single deadliest day for journalists in the United States since 9/11.

The attack took place a few years after Ramos had unsuccessfully sued the newspaper for defamation. An article in the paper had chronicled Ramos’ harassment of a former classmate on social media. Ramos pleaded guilty to a harassment charge in that case, court documents said.

‘A big relief’

Several reporters who were in the Capital Gazette newsroom on the day of the shooting said they were relieved that Ramos pleaded guilty.

Former Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis said that, while the criminal proceedings are not over, it brings “a certain level of closure.”

“Having to not go through this part of the trial, which would have been an argument of his guilt, certainly seems validating — at least on my own end,” said Davis, who is now a reporter at The Baltimore Sun.

Capital Gazette reporter Rachael Pacella said the guilty plea was “a big relief for me, big emotional release.”

“I definitely feel a little bit better and a little bit lighter after this plea,” she said.

“My thoughts are with the families of the people who died during this tragedy,” Pacella said. “And my thoughts are also just with remembering them and what good people they were and what they meant to people here in Annapolis. … Remembering them is the most important piece.”