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Maryland newspaper gunman gets more than 5 life prison terms

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A man who killed five people at a Maryland newspaper more than three years ago is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday for one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A man who killed five people at a newspaper in Maryland was sentenced on Tuesday to more than five life sentences without the possibility of parole — with 345 additional years added on to ensure he is never released from prison.

Anne Arundel County Judge Michael Wachs ordered the sentence for Jarrod Ramos, whom a jury previously found criminally responsible for killing Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen and Rebecca Smith with a shotgun at the Capital Gazette’s office in June 2018.

The assault was one of the worst attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

Before announcing the sentence, the judge heard survivors and family members of the slain describe the pain and loss they have experienced. He emphasized the courage of family members who spoke.

“The defendant did not get the final say,” Wachs said. “The First Amendment and the community got the final say.”

Wachs also pointed out that Ramos showed no remorse for the crimes and had said he would kill more if he were ever released. He described Ramos’ actions as a “cold-blooded, calculated attack on the innocent employees of a small-town newspaper.”

“The impact of this case is just simply immense,” Wachs said. “To say that the defendant exhibited a callous and complete disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply a huge understatement.”

Survivors described the shooting as an attack on journalism. Selene San Felice, a former reporter at the paper, said that while Ramos killed five of her colleagues, he could not stop the newspaper.

“Remember this: You cannot kill the truth,” San Felice said.

Ramos had pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible to all 23 counts against him in 2019, using Maryland’s version of an insanity defense. The case was delayed several times before and during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the five life sentences without possibility of parole, Wachs ordered another life sentence for the attempted murder of photographer Paul Gillespie, who had said that Ramos narrowly missed him with a shotgun blast as he ran out of the newsroom. The judge also sentenced Ramos to 345 years in prison on the other charges.

“The judge was crystal clear that Jarrod Ramos should never be allowed to walk out of prison — ever,” said Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess.

Family members of the slain cried in court as they described the anguish they have endured and the impact the attack had on the community of Maryland’s state capital.

“We lost the storyteller of our family, and as a community we lost the storyteller for everyone that is an Annapolitan,” said Montana Winters Geimer, Winters’ daughter.

San Felice, who survived by hiding under a desk during the attack, told journalists outside the courthouse that it felt good to see authorities “take him away forever.”

“It felt really good to be able to look the judge in the eye and also to be able to look the shooter in the eye,” San Felice said. “It meant a lot to me to be able to tell him to his face that he failed.”

Ramos, who sat in court wearing a black mask, declined to make a statement in court when asked by his attorney, Katy O’Donnell.

After a 12-day trial in July, a jury took less than two hours to reject arguments from Ramos’ attorneys that he could not understand the criminality of his actions.

Prosecutors contended Ramos, 41, acted out of revenge against the newspaper after it published a story about his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of harassing a former high school classmate in 2011. Prosecutors said his long, meticulous planning for the attack — which included preparations for his arrest and long incarceration — proved he understood the criminality of his actions.

Prosecutors also emphasized how Ramos called 911 from the newsroom after the shooting, identified himself as the gunman and said he surrendered — evidence he clearly understood the criminality of his actions.

___

This story has been edited to correct the spelling of McNamara.

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© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Crime

Spray-painted hate speech discovered in Bethesda

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Police in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they are investigating spray-painted hate speech at a Bethesda grocery store, a high school and two churches.

Police in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they are investigating spray-painted hate speech at a Bethesda grocery store, a high school and two churches.

Police said officers observed garbage Dumpsters with blue spray paint reading “WHITE PRIDE 2021,” behind the Giant at 10400 Old Georgetown Rd. on the morning of Oct. 3.

Officers learned a short time later that the phrases “NO COMMIES,” “LGBT IS UNNATURAL” and “WHITE PRIDE” with circles and crosses spray-painted in blue were found at multiple spots a few hundred feet away at Walter Johnson High School, at 6400 Rock Spring Drive.

Police said officers were advised of similar vandalism in the immediate area — on the welcome sign of a church in the 10000 block of Old Georgetown Road, and at a bus stop at Old Georgetown Road and Democracy Boulevard shortly after.

Officers were advised of more vandalism on the Bethesda Trolley Trail and at another church in the 6000 block of Grosvenor Lane, police said.

All the vandalism was committed in the space of about a half-mile square.

Surveillance video shows images of a potential suspect who appeared to be a male, slim to medium build, wearing a light-colored hat, dark red (possibly plaid) shirt or jacket, tan pants and brown boots, according to police. The potential suspect was wearing a headlamp and a backpack too.

Montgomery County police released these images of the suspect in the vandalism.

Police are asking anyone with more information on the incident or the identity of the suspect to call the 2nd District Patrol Investigations Unit at 240-773-6726.

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Crime

Police: DC police officer jumps from moving car, fires weapon during struggle with armed suspect

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An officer was dragged across the road after trying to make a traffic stop in the area of Brightwood in Northwest D.C. Friday.

Two D.C. police officers were injured and a suspect was wounded after an altercation that caused an officer to jump from a moving vehicle driven in the Brightwood Park neighborhood in Northwest D.C. Friday afternoon.

D.C. police Chief Robert Contee said officers were flagged down by someone who reported that an armed man with a cast on his arm was chasing another individual. The officers radioed that information and officers in the area began looking for someone meeting that description.

Road closures were put into effect at 500 Kennedy Street NW for a police investigation following the incident.

A little while later, officers stopped a man matching that description and felt a firearm in his waistband during a search, according to Contee. A fight then broke out, and the suspect managed to break free and run to an alleyway, where he got into a vehicle.

Police tried to get the man out of the car, as one officer entered into the rear seat in an effort to remove him. However, the suspect was able to start the vehicle, injuring one officer as the car took off down Kennedy Street.

The officer who entered through the rear asked the suspect several times to stop, but the man kept driving, Contee said.

“During that that drive down Kennedy Street, a shot was fired by our officer, striking the individual,” Contee said.

It was initially reported that the officer was dragged, but Contee clarified that the officer inside the car jumped out of the rear after shooting the suspect. Despite being shot by police, the suspect inside the car continued to go down the street.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty reported that a man with a gunshot wound turned up at a nearby hospital shortly after the incident. Contee confirmed that the individual was the suspect wanted in this incident.

Contee said the man had a single gunshot wound, and was taken into surgery for treatment. Police are still looking for his vehicle, which is described as a dark-colored Jeep.

Two officers were sent to hospitals to be treated for injuries caused during the incident. D.C. police are still investigating the area and looking for video from nearby crime cameras.

Brightwood Park was identified as one of the five areas the District was focusing on in its 2021 Fall Crime Prevention Initiative. Contee confirmed police increased its presence in the area recently, adding that it was “disrespectful to the community” that the suspect chased someone down the street with a loaded gun.

Contee thanked the resident who warned officers of the armed man, and asked any other potential witnesses — such as the man who was being chased — to come forward and offer a statement to police by calling 202-727-9099.

“This is an incident where one of our brave officers is out here, and citizens did exactly what we asked them to do: they told a police officer,” Contee said. ” …[To] that citizen, thank you. They did what they exactly what they were supposed to do and those officers, they did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

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Crime

Loudoun man apprehended after pointing gun, crashing car in police chase

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A man pointed a gun at a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy before fleeing, pointing a gun at a construction worker a short time later and then crashing the car he was driving after deputies say they tried to serve him multiple felony warrants. 

A man pointed a gun at a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy before fleeing, pointing a gun at a construction worker a short time later and then crashing the car he was driving after deputies say they tried to serve him multiple felony warrants.

The chase happened along the Fairfax-Loudoun County, Virginia, line on Thursday night.

Deputies said Terry Settles, 48, was seen getting into the passenger-side of a car in South Riding. But when deputies tried to pull the car over, the sheriff’s office said the car turned into the McBryde Terrace neighborhood.

Then, deputies say Settles pushed the driver out of the car and climbed behind the wheel. When a deputy tried to apprehend Settles, he pointed a gun at the deputy, according to the sheriff’s office.

The deputy went to take cover and Settles shut the door on him. Deputies said Settles backed into a sheriff’s car before driving off into Fairfax County. Deputies say they then lost sight of the vehicle and began coordinating with Fairfax County Police.

The sheriff’s office was told that Settles pulled a gun on a construction worker near Bull Run Post Office Road in Loudoun County.

Law enforcement from the Fairfax County Police Department, the Prince William County Police Department, the Virginia State Police, and the U.S. Park Police helicopter helped search for Settles.

Settles was found in a wooded area between Bull Run Post Office Road and Braddock Road, armed with a knife and refusing to come out of the woods, according to deputies.

Soon after, he was taken into custody. Both a knife and a gun were found at the scene. No members of law enforcement were hurt in the pursuit. Settles was taken to a hospital for minor injuries.

Deputies said Settles abandoned the car he was driving in a wooded area near where he was found after he was “involved in a single-vehicle crash.”

He was arrested on multiple charges including attempted aggravated murder, two counts of assault on law enforcement, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and driving on a revoked license.

Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Frederick County all served Settles with warrants. Settles is at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on no bond.

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