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The difficulties journalists face when dealing with threatening behavior from members of the public came into stark relief in Thursday’s deadly attack at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.
Suspect Jarrod Ramos, 38, has a well-documented history of harassing the paper’s staff. He filed a defamation suit against the paper in 2012 that was thrown out as groundless and often railed against them in profanity-laced tweets.
The article goes on to state the following:
Ramos’ ire with the newspaper began with an online harassment and stalking case stemming from contact with a high school classmate in late 2009 or early 2010. The woman eventually went to police, and Ramos pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge. The newspaper’s story about the case touched off a yearslong tirade from Ramos.
A barrage of menacing tweets led to an investigation five years ago, but a detective concluded Ramos was no threat, and the paper didn’t want to press charges for fear of “putting a stick in a beehive.”
The woman’s lawyer, Brennan McCarthy, told USA Today that he never came across any person who frightened him as much as Ramos, who is jailed on five counts of first-degree murder.
“Of the thousands of people I’ve dealt with in court, this guy stuck,” McCarthy told USA Today. “I was extremely scared that he was going to do something to me and my family.”
People who have been the victims of online discussion of physical violence, doxing (publishing private information) and rape threats aren’t surprised the Capital Gazette attack started with online harassment.
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