The gunman who blasted his way into the Capital-Gazette newsroom in Annapolis and murdered five people was found criminally responsible by a jury and will be sentenced to prison, not a maximum-security mental health facility.

Prosecutors are seeking five life sentences without the possibility of parole.

The trial began last month, three years and a day after the attack that killed Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters at the newspaper’s office on June 28, 2018. In less than two hours, the jury of eight men and four women found that the gunman could understand the criminality of his actions when he attacked the newsroom.

“Today, is truly a bittersweet day,” Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said in a statement released after the verdict.

“Just moments ago, a jury found Jarrod Ramos criminally responsible for murdering John McNamara, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith – our Guardians of the First Amendment.

“It’s been more than three years since Jarrod Ramos intentionally and methodically entered the Capital Gazette suite located at 888 Bestgate Road and executed a revengeful act against innocent victims. In a matter of minutes, he robbed the families of more hugs and kisses and friends of more priceless moments but most importantly, each and every one of them of more time. Their loss will forever impact our community but their words and legacy will always remain.

“To John, Rob, Gerald, Wendi and Rebecca, we thank you for your bravery, trust and commitment to our community. You will never be forgotten.”

Capital-Gazette staffers and family members shared their reactions on Twitter:

“My mom’s murderer has been found criminally responsible for the attack on her newsroom. I can feel her with us in our joy and gratitude. A heartfelt thank you to the jury and the office of the State’s Attorney.”

“The Legend of Wendi Winters lives on.” #capitalgazette

— Summerleigh Winters

“Nobody wants to be here. But here we are. May he rot in prison with the knowledge that he never once stopped us. And RIP to Gerald, John, Rebecca, Wendi and Rob.”

— Former Capital City Editor Chase Cook

“Never show his face again.”

— Former Capital reporter Selene San Felice

“I am grateful to the state’s attorney, police, my co-workers and everyone else who has supported us in the three years leading to this day, especially my forever-editor Rick Hutzell.”

“The trial process has been extremely stressful, but I feel much better today and I’m excited about my future. I am grateful to the jury for bearing the weight of the testimony they heard and for giving us an answer in little time. We thought we had another night of rough sleep.”

“Tonight, I’ll sleep well.”

— Capital Education Reporter Rachael Pacella

On June 28, exactly three years after the shooting, hundreds gathered in downtown Annapolis for the dedication of the Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial. Here is Capitol Communicator’s coverage of the event.

Anne Arundel County Courthouse photo of family members and survivors by Capital Crime and Courts Reporter Lilly Price

 

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