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Virginia editor receives card apparently sent by accused Capital Gazette shooter

Annapolis shooting: 1 person's narrow escape

NORFOLK, Va. -- A man accused of fatally shooting five people at a Maryland newsroom is believed to have mailed a letter on the day of the rampage to a Virginia journalist he harassed for years and unsuccessfully sued, police and the journalist said Thursday. The letter arrived Thursday at The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk. It was the fourth such letter that police believe suspect Jarrod Ramos sent the day of last week's shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

Jarrod Ramos is seen in a police booking photo distributed by the police department in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, on June 29, 2018.
Jarrod Ramos is seen in a police booking photo distributed by the police department in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, on June 29, 2018. Anne Arundel County Police Department

The letter was addressed to Eric Hartley, an editor at The Virginian-Pilot, who once worked as a columnist and reporter at The Capital, Hartley told The Associated Press in an email.

Hartley said the pink greeting-card-style envelope was postmarked June 28, the day of the shooting. The return address was listed as "Anonymous Source."

The letter was turned over unopened to Norfolk Police, reports the Baltimore Sun. Hartley said police opened the package safely in a lab and told him that it contained a CD and an unsigned greeting card. The card's pre-printed message was along the lines of, "Smile, you're on camera. It's your big day, and all eyes are on you," Hartley said.

Hartley said police did not reveal exactly what was on the CD but said there was nothing on it that was threatening.

But other letters sent by Ramos were, according to police.

One that arrived Monday for an attorney who had worked for the Annapolis newspaper stated that Ramos was going to the newsroom "with the objective of killing every person present," according to a copy of the letter provided to the AP by former publisher Tom Marquardt.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Jason Knight requested that the jail housing Ramos turn over "certified copies of all incoming or outgoing mail (front/back with envelope, delivered every two weeks)" for him.

Daniel Hudson, a spokesman with the Norfolk police, said the letter to Hartley is being turned over to the FBI.

Christina Pullen, an FBI spokeswoman, referred questions to Maryland's Anne Arundel County police, who are leading the investigation. They did not return a call seeking comment from the AP. An Anne Arundel police spokesman declined to comment to the Baltimore Sun Thursday on any letters received or sent in relation to the case, the paper reports.

Passage: The Capital Gazette

Police said they found Ramos hiding under a desk after the attack at The Capital and jailed him on five counts of first-degree murder.

Ramos has a well-documented history of harassing the paper's journalists. The newspaper published a 2011 story describing allegations by a woman who said Ramos harassed her online for months. The Baltimore Sun reports that story was written by Hartley.

Ramos filed a failed lawsuit against Hartley and the paper in 2012, alleging that he was defamed in the article about his conviction in the criminal harassment case.

The defamation suit was thrown out as groundless, and Ramos often railed against current and former Capital staff in profanity-laced tweets.

Police say Ramos used a shotgun to blast through the doors of the newspaper's Annapolis offices and kill staffers Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

Winters was the special publications editor. McNamara was a writer. Fischman was editorial page editor. Smith was a sales assistant. Hiassen was an assistant editor and columnist.

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