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Capital Gazette Shooter Took Pride In What He Did, Psychiatrist Says

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Joel McCord
/
Anne Arundel County Courthouse

A state psychiatrist testified Tuesday that the Capital Gazette shooter was “proud of what he had done,” killing five people in The Capital’s newsroom in June 2018.

Dr. Sameer Patel, a forensic psychiatrist with the state health department who interviewed the gunman for more than 20 hours during the summer of 2019, said he “took pleasure” in relating the story.

He said Jarrod Ramos, who has pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible in the deaths of Rebecca Smith, Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, John McNamara and Gerald Fischman, told of shooting his last victim.

Patel said Ramos was trying to use a newsroom computer to send a tweet when he found one staffer hiding under his desk, delivered the line, “It’s Jarrod time,” and shot the man.

“He expressed joy in delivering that line,” Patel said. “His only regret was that he was unable to kill more people.”

Patel said Ramos told him he planned the assault on the building in Annapolis for a Thursday because he knew the paper’s community editorial board would be meeting there. In addition, it was only two days after a primary election and he hoped politicians would be there, naming Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess.

Patel is expected to be the last prosecution witness in the trial, one of three mental health professionals called to dispute defense claims that Ramos was not criminally responsible—Maryland’s version of the insanity plea.

They said Ramos, 41, had several mental health issues, including that he suffered from delusions, that he had obsessive compulsive disorder and autism spectrum disorder. All that together, they said, meant he couldn’t appreciate the criminality of his actions.

But Patel and Marshall Cowan, another forensic psychiatrist who testified earlier, said they diagnosed Ramos with schizotypal personality disorder and a narcissistic personality disorder, neither one of which are enough to keep him from understanding that shooting five people is wrong.

Earlier yesterday, Dr. Gregory Saathoff, a University of Virginia psychiatrist who has consulted with the FBI, pointed out inconsistencies in the defense mental health professionals’ testimony.

Saathoff said the correctional officers and others on the Anne Arundel County Detention Center staff described Ramos as a “model inmate.” But nurses and mental health professionals said he refused to speak to them. He refused to speak to Saathoff as well.

Saathoff noted that autism spectrum disorder almost always is diagnosed in early childhood, but that other testimony indicated Ramos had a normal childhood.

And Saathoff pointed out Ramos checked out the newspaper’s offices, dressed so he might not be recognized, months before the shooting and that he didn’t buy the shotgun he used until after that reconnaissance. Saathoff said that was in case he was recognized and stopped, there would be no record of the gun purchase that might raise a red flag.

Ramos also sent threatening letters to the columnist who reported on his conviction for harassing a former high school classmate online that led to his lawsuits, and to Judge Charles Moylan, the Special Appeals Court judge who threw out his suit against the newspaper.

But he mailed them so as not to arrive until after the shooting and, again, raise a red flag, Saathoff said.

Saathoff said those actions demonstrate that Ramos could appreciate the criminality of his conduct and could conform his conduct to the law, the heart of the insanity defense.

Patel is expected to return to the witness stand today to finish his testimony. The jury should get the case by the end of the week.