Here’s What You Need to Know About the Annapolis Shooter

June 29, 2018
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A 38-year-old male who murdered five people and injured two others at the Capital Gazette newspaper on June 28 appears to have a serious vendetta against the paper for reporting on his alleged stalking of a former high school classmate.

The roots of the grudge trace back to 2011, when Capital Gazette writer Eric Thomas Hartley wrote a column describing how the shooter reached out to a female on Facebook he knew from high school. He thanked her for being one of the only people to be nice to him during that period of time and revealed some of the issues he was dealing with.

The messages suddenly became dark and disturbing.

“When it seemed to me that it was turning into something that gave me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, that he seems to think there’s some sort of relationship here that does not exist … I tried to slowly back away from it, and he just started getting angry and vulgar to the point I had to tell him to stop,” the victim said in court when she sued him for harassment charges.

She added that he would send her messages that included, “You’re going to need restraining order now” and “Have another drink and go hang yourself, you cowardly little lush.”

The shooter did eventually plead guilty to the harassment charges. However, he was irked by Hartley’s column about the matter, and sued the paper for defamation. His defamation suit was tossed out in court.

“I think people who are the subject of newspaper articles, whoever they may be, feel that there is a requirement that they be placed in the best light, or they have an opportunity to have the story reported to their satisfaction, or have the opportunity to have however much input they believe is appropriate,” Judge Maureen M. Lamasney told him in 2015. “But that’s simply not true. There is nothing in those complaints that prove that anything that was published about you is, in fact, false. It all came from a public record. It was of the result of a criminal conviction. And it cannot give rise to a defamation suit.”

Former Capital Gazette editor and publisher Thomas Marquardt told The Baltimore Sun, which owns the Capital Gazette, that after the column had been published the shooter harassed the paper for years.

“I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence,” Marquardt said. “I even told my wife, ‘We have to be concerned. This guy could really hurt us.’ ”

One of the attorneys defending the Capital Gazette, William Shirley, told the New York Daily News, “I remember at one point he was talking in a motion and somehow worked in how he wanted to smash Hartley’s face into the concrete. We were concerned at the time. He was not stable.”


Here’s the header of his Twitter page:

There hadn’t been any tweets issued from the account since 2016, until June 28, when he tweeted, “F––– you, leave me alone.” He had sent the same message to the female victim years ago even though she hadn’t contacted him.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty pointed out that had the shooter been convicted of stalking instead of harassment, it would have been “impossible for him [the shooter] to legally purchase or possess a firearm.”

Hartley and Marquardt are no longer at the paper and were not present at the shooting. None of the victims of the shooting had anything to do with the column that sparked the shooter’s vendetta against the paper.

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