Three years after the Capital Gazette shooting, its former publisher is still sleeping with a gun


Mark Morales, CNN

Tom Marquardt, the former editor and publisher of the Capital Gazette, could easily have found himself in the crosshairs of Jarrod Ramos, the man responsible for the intrusion into the newspaper’s newsroom and the murder of five employees with his shotgun.

Fortunately for Marquardt, he had already retired from the diary. But three years after the brutal Annapolis, Maryland massacre, Marquardt’s innocence has vanished, replaced by a Heckler & Koch VP9 and a .357 Smith and Wesson, both loaded with hollow point bullets.

Marquardt, who has been against guns his entire life, found himself changed forever on that brutal day.

“I never thought I would live to see the day when I had guns, plural, in my house,” said Marquardt, 73, who added that loaded guns are with him every night in his house. room while he sleeps. “I have never been a gunman, I have never owned a gun. But here I am, trying to save my home and my family.

As Marquardt and his wife consider resuming training at their favorite shooting range – The Alamo – a jury will decide whether Ramos, the man who pleaded guilty and admitted to killing his colleagues, should spend the rest of his life in a cell prison or under psychiatric supervision in a maximum security hospital.

“I don’t think this guy is crazy in my mind. I think he should get his due, ”said Marquardt, moments before the dedication ceremony for the memorial in honor of his colleagues killed on the anniversary of the shooting. “He deserves the scope of the law, whatever it is, to stay in jail for the rest of his life.”

Lawyers representing Ramos declined to comment.

Ramos’ rage against the newspaper began in 2011, when a former classmate of the gunman filed a criminal harassment complaint against him. And after Ramos pleaded guilty to the criminal harassment charge, the Capital Gazette ran a column on the case, sparking anger from the shooter.

Ramos tried to sue the newspaper for libel but ultimately lost. An appeals court upheld the decision in 2015. And about three years later, Ramos executed his revenge plot, even sending a letter to an attorney for the Capital Gazette and to the judge of the Maryland Special Court of Appeal. , telling them that he intended to kill as many people as possible.

On June 28, 2018, Ramos barricaded the back door so that no one could escape, then began “systematically hunting and killing,” County State Attorney Anne Arundel said at the time, Wes Adams, a few days after the shooting.

Ramos shot at least one person trying to escape through a barricaded door, Adams said days later. The shooter, who was using a 12-gauge shotgun and carrying smoke grenades, was found hiding behind a desk when police broke into the office.

He was charged with five counts of first degree murder.

“The guy was there to kill as many people as he could kill,” former Maryland Police Chief Timothy Altomare said at a press conference shortly after the shooting.

Five people were killed in the attack: Gerald Fischman, 61; Rob Hiaasen, 59; John McNamara, 56; Rebecca Smith, 34; and Wendi Winters, 65. Two other employees were injured in the shooting. They were all friends of Marquardt.

The judge presiding over the case said it would take 10 working days for prosecutors and defense lawyers to present their witnesses before the jury decides Ramos’ fate.

Marquardt was not working at the Capital Gazette when Ramos broke in and killed five staff. He retired in 2012, although he still writes a weekly wine column for the newspaper.

When the shooting took place, Marquardt was already living in Naples, Florida, and returned to Maryland after the attack to comfort his colleagues. When a newspaper lawyer called him, he told him to be careful: Ramos had Marquardt’s name and address. After being convinced by friends of law enforcement, that’s when the longtime journalist decided to get a gun.

“You don’t have the security you once had,” Marquardt said. “You don’t have this confidence that the world is right and that you are not one of the next people in a mass shooting. It approached.

Three years later, Marquardt says he is not only tortured by the gunmen killing his colleagues, who weren’t even working at the Capital Gazette when the original article on Ramos was published, but also by the ease with which the shooter – or someone else – could walk into a room and murder people with a shotgun.

And for Marquardt, who was shaken up after the shooting, he knew he couldn’t just rely on a baseball bat. Not after what he knew had happened to his friends.

“Where will it be next?” Marquardt wonders. “Is this going to be a movie theater?” Is it going to be a mall? Will it be a school somewhere? No place is safe.

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