ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A gunman opened fire in what police are calling a "targeted attack" at a newspaper office in Annapolis on Thursday, killing five people and wounding two others before being taken into custody in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history, police and witnesses said.
Police said the suspect was a white man in his late 30s whose rampage at The Capital Gazette followed social media threats directed at the newspaper. Authorities said the man entered the building and "looked for his victims." He threw smoke grenades and fired a shotgun at his victims, according to Anne Arundel County Acting Police Chief William Krampf.
"This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm," Krampf said.
Krampf declined to identify the suspect but said he was a Maryland resident and search warrants were being sought for his home.
He says five people were killed and two injured in the attack. He described the two injuries as superficial.
Police gave no immediate details on the motive for the attack at The Capital Gazette and said the suspect was being interrogated.
Phil Davis, a reporter who covers courts and crime for the paper, tweeted that the gunman shot out the glass door to the office and fired into the newsroom, sending people scrambling for cover under desks.
"A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead," he wrote.
Davis added: "There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload."
The gunman is believed to have used a shotgun, according to a U.S. official who was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the gunman was not cooperating with investigators.
The New York Police Department immediately deployed counterterrorism teams to news organizations around the city in a move police said was prompted not by any specific threat but was instead done as a precaution. Police could be seen outside The New York Times, ABC News and Fox News early in the evening.
In Maryland, police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers raced to the scene, arriving in 60 seconds, and engaged the shooter.
At least two patients were taken to a nearby hospital; their condition was not immediately released.
People could be seen leaving the newspaper building with their hands up as police cars and other emergency vehicles converged on the scene.
In an interview with The Capital Gazette's online site, Davis said it "was like a war zone" inside the newspaper's offices — a situation that would be "hard to describe for a while."
"I'm a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time," he said. "But as much as I'm going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don't know until you're there and you feel helpless."
Davis told the paper he and others were still hiding under their desks when the shooter stopped firing.
"I don't know why. I don't know why he stopped," he said.
The newspaper is part of Capital Gazette Communications, which also publishes the Maryland Gazette and CapitalGazette.com.