Special tactical police gather after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018.
  • Five people were killed, several others were injured in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland in the US on Thursday.
  • A man with the same name as the main suspect filed a lawsuit against the newspaper in 2011, accusing it of defaming him in a column.
  • The article in question told the account of a woman who described a "yearlong nightmare" she said began after she was unexpectedly contacted by the shooting suspect.

The suspected gunman in custody after a deadly mass shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland in the US has been identified as Jarrod Ramos, according law-enforcement officials cited by multiple news outlets Thursday night.

Police did not immediately confirm the suspected gunman's name, but they called the shooting "a targeted attack" and said the suspect, who they identified as a man in his late 30s, may have been motivated by a "vendetta" against the local newspaper.

Multiple news outlets reported on Thursday night that a man also named Jarrod Ramos filed a lawsuit against the newspaper in 2012. Ramos accused the Capital Gazette of publishing a defamatory article titled, "Jarrod wants to be your friend." According to court documents, it described a "yearlong nightmare" in which a woman said Ramos harassed her after contacting her on Facebook.

"Out of the blue, Jarrod Ramos wrote and thanked her for being the only person ever to say hello or be nice to him in school," the article, which was printed in full in the court documents, read.

The article continued:

"'She didn't remember him, so he sent pictures. She Googled him, found a yearbook picture and realised they apparently did go to Arundel High together.

"'He was having some problems, so she wrote back and tried to help, suggesting a counselling centre. I just thought I was being friendly," she 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.

"'She stopped writing back and told him to stop, but he continued. When she blocked him from seeing her Facebook page, he found things she wrote on other people's pages and taunted her with it, attaching screenshots of the postings to some of his emails.

"'She called police, and for months he stopped. But then he started again, nastier than ever.

"'All this without having seen her in person since high school. They never met until they came to court a couple of months ago.'"

According to the article, Ramos told the woman that her efforts to avoid him were futile: "'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.'"

Ramos, who was 31 years old at the time, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour harassment charge. The presiding judge described Ramos's behaviour as "rather bizarre."

At the time, Christopher Drewniak, Ramos' lawyer, attempted to explain his client's behaviour: "I read about this all the time, where Facebook conversations, email conversations, start out fine and then take a turn where they become nastier over the course of time," Drewniak reportedly said. "And this is apparently one of those situations."

Drewniak said his client had a computer engineering degree and worked for the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, according to court documents. He reportedly had no previous criminal record.

During Ramos' 2013 appeal, the appellate court judge in that case appeared to rebuke Ramos, who was representing himself in the matter: "A lawyer would almost certainly have told him not to proceed with this case. It reveals a fundamental failure to understand what defamation law is and more particularly, what defamation law is not.

"He is aggrieved because the story was sympathetic toward the harassment victim and was not equally understanding of the harassment perpetrator," the opinion said. "The appellant wanted equal coverage of his side of the story. He wanted a chance to put the victim in a bad light, in order to justify and explain why he did what he did."

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