CHILLING details have emerged about the gunman who went on a shooting rampage in a Maryland newsroom, killing five people and leaving others seriously injured.
A law enforcement official said the suspect in the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis mutilated his fingers in what investigators think was an effort to prevent him from being easily identified.
The official was briefed on the investigation but was not authorised to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official says investigators believe the suspect was attempting to prevent them from getting a fingerprint match.
The official says that investigators have nonetheless been able to identify the man, though it was not immediately clear how.
NBC has now identified him as Maryland resident Jarrod Ramos, 38.
NBC reports that Ramos sued the paper in 2012 for defamation, but the case was dismissed.
"This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette," Bill Krampf, acting police chief of Anne Arundel county, told reporters during a briefing.
He said that police did not yet know the shooter's motive but: "We know that there were threats sent to the Gazette through social media."
"We're trying to confirm what account that was and we're trying to confirm who actually sent them," Krampf said.
Krampf said that the threats did not appear to target an individual but rather the media outlet as a whole, adding "they indicated violence".
Krampf added the attacker had used canisters of smoke grenades while entering the office building and "was prepared today to come in".
Police were called to the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, one hour south of Baltimore, Maryland, on Thursday afternoon at 3.15pm local time (5.15am Friday AEST).
Authorities arrived at the scene just one minute after they received the call a shooter had opened fire.
The male gunman, who acted alone, fired a spray of bullets through a glass door, forcing reporters to hide under their desks as they heard him reload his weapon.
A reporter recalled how they stayed under their desks as the gunman stopped firing, before he was later surrounded by police.
Four of the five people who were killed in the shooting were pronounced dead in the office, while the fifth later died at hospital, CNN reported.
Police found the suspect hiding under a desk with his gun on the floor but "not in his immediate proximity", according to Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel county executive.
Mr Schuh also described the attack as "amateur".
"It looks like it was amateur hour. But even amateurs can cause a lot of damage in the absence of excellent response by law enforcement. We fortunately had that in this instance," he said.
"Active shooter at 888 Bestgate please help us," tweeted Anthony Messenger, a Gazette intern, according to his Twitter account.
Anne Arundel County Sheriff Ron Bateman told Fox News that a suspect was apprehended after the shooting. The gunman reportedly used a shotgun during the massacre.
Sheriff Ron Bateman on Maryland newsroom shooting: "One of my deputy sheriff K9 handlers made an apprehension of a suspect. It is an active investigation, it is unfolding as we speak." https://t.co/6gHhXWA95v pic.twitter.com/NH8zwRX6xr— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 28, 2018
The intern also wrote that an editor was shot.
Authorities confirmed on Twitter that they were dealing an active shooter.
The Baltimore Sun, which owns the Annapolis newspaper, says a reporter told them of the shooting.
Phil Davis, who says he's a reporter for the newspaper, tweeted throughout the incident and said "a single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead."
There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload— Phil Davis (@PhilDavis_CG) June 28, 2018
"Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees," he said.
"There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload."
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore said they are responding to the incident. The FBI is also sending assets to the scene from Baltimore, Fox News confirmed.
Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can't say much more and don't want to declare anyone dead, but it's bad.— Phil Davis (@PhilDavis_CG) June 28, 2018
According to WJLA, citing sources, a shotgun was involved in the incident.
Video shared by Fox 5 DC showed a line of people with their hands in the air being evacuated from the area.
President Trump, as well as the first lady, have been briefed on the shooting, White House officials confirmed. White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said "our thoughts and prayers are with all that are affected."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted that he was "absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis."
"I am in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh, and @MDSP is on the scene assisting @AACOPD," he continued.
"Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community."
Prior to departing Wisconsin, I was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 28 June 2018
People on social media have blamed the ongoing anti-media rhetoric from the President and other leaders for the attack.
"The shooting today in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland cannot reasonably be separated from the President's mission to villainize the press as "the enemy of the American people," wrote Lauren Duca on Twitter.
While another pointed the blame at controversial right-wing political commentator and Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos.
"Just yesterday Trump Supporter and former senior editor for Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos said: "I can't wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight."
"Today a shooter guns down journalists in Annapolis, Maryland."