Morning Update: Five People Have Been Shot Dead In A Maryland Newsroom

Interviews for the Supreme Court vacancy start next week, the Trump-Putin summit is set, and your weekend longreads. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, June 29.

Five people were killed in a “targeted attack” on a Maryland newspaper

On Thursday afternoon, a man walked into the building that houses the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, and opened fire, killing five people and injuring two others, officials said.

According to authorities, the suspect walked through the lower level with a shotgun “looking for victims.”

Anne Arundel County Acting Police Chief Bill Krampf was precise in his grim words: “This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette. This person was prepared today to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm.”

The suspect, who lives in Maryland, had repeatedly threatened the Gazette on social media, as recently as on the day of the shooting itself. Officers arrived on the scene within a minute, and the suspect did not exchange gunfire with the police.

The victims killed in the shooting are:

  • Wendi Winters, an award-winning reporter who covered community news

  • Robert Hiaasen, an editor known for his humor

  • Gerald Fischman, an editorial writer

  • Rebecca Smith, a sales assistant

  • John McNamara, who had worked for the Capital Gazette in various roles for more than 20 years

We’ve put together everything we know about them so far.

This morning, police charged 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos with five counts of first-degree murder for the shooting. Ramos appeared to hold a vendetta against the newspaper after it published a column about him pleading guilty to harassing a former high school classmate in 2011. Here’s what we know about him.

To many, local papers are sacred. People are talking about the Maryland newsroom with reverence and respect, and I encourage you to spend time reading these tributes.

The Gazette’s staff are shocked and they are grieving, and in the middle of all that, one reporter tweeted, “I can tell you this: we are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”

The White House will start interviewing Supreme Court candidates next week

Yesterday, we talked about the significance of President Donald Trump getting to fill another seat on the high court after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. On this front, things are moving quickly.

According to Leonard Leo, one of Trump’s key advisers on the Supreme Court vacancy, there is “pressure” to announce a nominee for the vacancy within the next two to three weeks — before Trump leaves for the NATO summit in mid-July.

Leo is taking a leave of absence from his job as an executive with the Federalist Society, the influential conservative lawyers group. The organization has long served as a pipeline to the bench for conservative lawyers under Republican presidents.

Democrats have accused Trump of outsourcing judicial nominations to the Federalist Society and other conservative groups that aren't accountable to the public and whose backers aren't always known.

Interviews with candidates start next week.


Trump and Putin are going to have their first official summit. The two leaders are going to meet next month in Helsinki in Finland. The summit is due to take place July 16, a few days after the NATO summit in Brussels. The two leaders plan to discuss relations between their countries and a “range of national security issues.”

Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison is dead at 84. Ellison was incredibly prolific, publishing hundreds of short stories, novels, screenplays, and pieces of criticism; his postapocalyptic story series A Boy and His Dog was adapted into the 1975 film of the same name. Ellison also famously contributed to Star Trek, writing the beloved episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Tributes are pouring in — for example, Stephen King said, “There was no one quite like him in American letters, and never will be.”

The NFL is suspending Jameis Winston for three games for allegedly groping an Uber driver. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback violated the league’s personal conduct policy, according to a statement from the NFL. The Uber driver had previously told BuzzFeed News that Winston reached over “and put his fingers on my crotch.” The NFL’s investigation took eight months, and investigators found that the “driver’s account of the incident was consistent and credible.” is dropping the “hotness” rating after profs called it sexist. The website allows college students to publicly rate their professors on a number of traits, including quality and difficulty. Additionally, students can rate the professor on their “hotness,” as indicated by a red chili pepper icon. The website will remove the metric after a tweet criticizing it went viral. “Life is hard enough for female professors. Your 'chili pepper' rating of our 'hotness' is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching,” the tweet read.

Showtime says it’s going to adapt the video game Halo into a live-action TV series. Kyle Killen will serve as executive producer, in addition to being a writer and showrunner on the project. The show will start production in early 2019. Executives have been trying to figure out how to bring Halo to the screen for some time, so fans of the video game franchise will be elated it’s finally happening.

Meet the 29-year-old trying to be Mexico’s king of fake news

Mexico’s election is this Sunday, and it’s been quite an intense build-up to it.

Among the features of having a contentious election in 2018 — anywhere in the world — is that fake news is bound to play a significant role. Our reporters talked to a young man who, armed with millions of bots and thousands of bogus Facebook pages, is trying to hijack Mexico’s politics with fake news.

Carlos Merlo's digital marketing firm can make a topic trend on Twitter for $10,000. He’s able to push fake news, dark ads, and false trending topics easily — and his main clientele are politicians.

He told us the only real obstacle to his work has been getting government employees to pay him on time: “Getting paid is difficult. Making a million tweets is easy; getting the money is not.”

The account of Merlo’s work is absolutely fascinating. Merlo is also the subject of the new episode of our new show URL to IRL, which looks at how what happens on the internet affects the real world. You must watch it — it is so good.

The best thing about weekends is the longreads

I’ve been meaning to watch the Netflix romantic comedy Set It Up, but haven’t had the chance. People seem really in love with the film, and Kristen O’Neal looked deeper into the reasons why in this great piece. Besides being a surprisingly real movie about what it means to be a twentysomething in 2018, Set It Up goes further — here’s O’Neal: “Where older rom-coms finish the train of thought with ‘love is where true happiness lies,’ Set It Up takes things one step further. Falling in love is important, but it’s not enough.”

Mentioning the names Patsy Ramsey or Casey Anthony immediately conjures an image in your head. What is that image? A new documentary series, The Last Defense, raises questions about the trials of Anthony and Darlie Routier, and our fascination with the bad moms of true crime. Pier Dominguez reflects on the documentary series in this fascinating essay. From Dominguez: “Whatever one might think about their subjects’ guilt or innocence … they make a compelling, sometimes unintentional case that problematic assumptions and a gendered moralism can lead the public imagination, and the judicial apparatus, astray.”

Have you seen Kevin Costner’s new show, Yellowstone? I feel compelled to watch after reading this thoughtful piece from Anne Helen Petersen, who describes it as “more than just Dallas with horses.” See, Yellowstone is a Western drama — not immediately my genre — and Petersen explores the show’s use of Montana as a way to investigate the eternal debates about what land means. From Petersen’s piece: “Yellowstone may be ‘about’ Montana, but Montana is merely a convenient and suitably epic backdrop to consider the questions that undergird so many Western conversations: What’s the future of ‘traditional’ ways of life? What do we do with all these new people?”

And finally, because we could all use a reminder to believe, we put together 12 beautiful quotes that will give you some hope. It feels like the kind of week where you (actually, all of us) might need it. My favorite is the Toni Morrison quote — let me know which one resonates with you.

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