WASHINGTON: A gunman fired through a glass door at a newspaper in the Maryland capital of Annapolis and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire on Thursday, killing at least five people and injuring several others, authorities said.
County Sheriff Ron Bateman told Fox News confirmed the detention of the suspect, while local political leaders said no motive was known for the attack at the Capital Gazette newspaper.
According to Capital Gazette’s own report, “police would not name the suspect or say what type of weapon was used” in the incident to which Anne Arundel County Police initially confirmed at 3:15 PM they were responding.
There were 170 people in the building, the publication wrote.
The Baltimore Sun-owned paper quoted police as saying a “long gun” was used in the incident, an “explosive device” was seized.
Authorities had “tactically secured” the building, it added.
Law enforcement in Baltimore and New York City deployed protective forces to major media outlets, including the New York Times, as a precaution, authorities said.
“The shooter is in custody and is being interrogated at this time,” Steve Schuh, the county executive of Anne Arundel, told a news conference.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said at the news conference: “It’s a tragic situation. We don’t have all the information yet, and we can’t give all the information yet, but we have had several fatalities.”
“Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis. […] Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area.
“Praying for those at the scene and for our community,” he had tweeted earlier.
Previously, the local ABC7 news reported “multiple fatalities”, quoting police in the historic city located an hour east of Washington.
For now, the Annapolis shooting is being treated as a local incident and not one that involves terrorism, a law enforcement official said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is on the scene assisting local authorities, the official said.
After initially informing people via Twitter of the shooting, Phil Davis, a crime reporter at the Capital Gazette, said his office “was like a war zone”, an incident he would find “hard to describe for a while”, according to the publication’s report.
“I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time.
“But as much as I’m going to try to articulate how traumatising it is to be hiding under your desk, you don’t know until you’re there and you feel helpless.”
Earlier, just after the incident, he had said: “A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead.”
He explained on Twitter that a “gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees” and that “there is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”
Davis added later that he was safe and being interviewed by police.
Capital Gazette Editor Jimmy DeButts also took to Twitter, saying he was “devastated and heartbroken”.
“There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community. We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment.
“We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.”
“We try to expose corruption. We fight to get access to public records & bring to light the inner workings of government despite major hurdles put in our way. The reporters & editors put their all into finding the truth,” he added.
US President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said, adding that “our thoughts and prayers are with all that are affected.”
Trump was aboard Air Force One, returning to Washington from an event, when he tweeted: “Prior to departing Wisconsin, I was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.”
Further, First Lady Melania Trump also commented on the shooting incident, saying: “Today’s violence at the Capital Gazette was tragic & evil.”
“My heart goes out to all affected in this brutal & senseless attack, & I send thoughts & prayers for comfort to the friends, family & colleagues of those killed & injured,” she added.
One law enforcement source told CBS News the suspect is a male in his 20s who had no identification on him. Two law enforcement sources told CBS News the suspect used a shotgun.
Police also went to the offices of the Baltimore Sun as a precaution, that paper reported.
The New York Police Department said it was beefing up security at New York-based news organizations as a precaution.
“We’re deploying units from our Critical Response Command to news outlets throughout New York City,” said Officer Andrew Lava, an NYPD spokesman.
— Capital Gazette (@capgaznews) June 29, 2018
“There is no active threat at this time,” he said.
Agents from the Baltimore office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were responding to the incident, the bureau tweeted.
“ATF Baltimore is responding to a shooting incident at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis,” the ATF said on Twitter.
Police are checking the building in Annapolis for explosives and whether more than one suspect was involved, Anne Arundel County police spokesman, Lieutenant Ryan Frashure, told reporters.
Live video images showed people leaving the building, walking through a parking lot with their hands in the air. Scores of police vehicles were on the scene.-Web Desk