By John Queally / Common Dreams
As the nation mourned yet another senseless mass shooting—this time at a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland on Thursday in which five people were murdered—details of the alleged gunman expose yet another perpetrator with a history of misogynistic and threatening behavior towards women.
On Friday it was reported that the man arrested by police at the scene of the massacre inside The Capital Gazette’s offices, Jarrod Warren Ramos—who had a “bitter history” with the newspaper going back years—had been charged by local prosecutors with five counts of first-degree murder.
According to the Associated Press:
Ramos filed a failed lawsuit against the paper in 2012, alleging the newspaper, a columnist and an editor defamed him in an article about his conviction in a criminal harassment case in 2011.
According to court documents, five days after Ramos pleaded guilty to criminal harassment, the newspaper published a story describing allegations by a woman who claimed Ramos harassed her online for months.
The article said Ramos had contacted the woman on Facebook and thanked her “for being the only person ever to say, ‘Hello,’ or be nice to him in school.”
The woman told the newspaper that Ramos appeared to be having some problems, so she wrote back and tried to help, suggesting a counseling center. She said that set off months of emails in which Ramos sometimes asked for help, but other times called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself. She told The Capital that she told him to stop, but the emails continued. She said she called police and the emails stopped for months, but then started up again “nastier than ever,” the article said.
After a court rejected his lawsuit claiming defamation buy the paper, Ramos’ ire reportedly intensified and he increasingly targeted the newspaper and its staff with threats. As Christian Christensen, professor of journalism at Stockholm University in Sweden pointed out Ramos’ profile fits a familiar profile:
So, once again, a mass murderer with clear links to threatening women and misogyny. But, let’s keep searching for other factors in a desperate effort to avoid and ignore the toxic masculinity that screams in our national faces on a daily basis. #Annapolis #CapitalGazette https://t.co/7fAewZH2lH
— Christian Christensen (@ChrChristensen) June 29, 2018
Separately, Christensen simply pointed out that the scourge of gun violence in the United States—from the daily violence of injuries, homicide and suicide nationwide to the steady stream of mass casualty events like Thursday in Annapolis—continues unabated, with much of it fueled by what he characterized as the nation’s “destructive, macho obsession with guns.”
No matter how many people in the US say otherwise, 12,000 murders a year using firearms, multiple mass school shootings, 600 people shot in 15 minutes from a hotel window are NOT the “price of freedom.” It is the sign of a deep, destructive, macho obsession with guns. #annapolis
— Christian Christensen (@ChrChristensen) June 28, 2018
Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) echoed the sentiments of many as she connected Thursday’s shooting to the larger and frightening trend that means nobody is allowed to feel safe in a culture where gun violence has reached epidemic proportions:
My heart goes out to the Capital Gazette. No journalist should have to duck bullets in the newsroom. No student should have to hide from an active shooter. No one should have to live in fear of being in the middle of the next mass shooting. This violence MUST end.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 28, 2018
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Editor’s Postscript: Charles P. Pierce’s column at Esquire is also worth a read today. It concludes:
The story of a shooter with a grudge against a newspaper is getting a lot of run, and it’s easy to see why. Anyone who’s ever worked at a newspaper in any department has a Jarrod Ramos story to tell—the ringing phone you don’t want to pick up, the letters with the alarming spelling, and, now, the many platforms of social media. Most of those people never pick up a gun. Jarrod Ramos did.
However, it’s essential, I believe, to take this story back to its origins—an angry misogynist who engaged in a vicious campaign of slander and harassment of a woman who just tried to be nice to him. Misogyny is the one thing that’s part of too many of these stories. Well, that and the guns.