Officer Daniel Hudson, a spokesman for the Norfolk Police Department, declined to name the employee, but he said the department turned the letter over to the FBI’s local field office. He referred questions about the contents of the letter to other law enforcement agencies, which are handling the investigation.
A woman who picked up the phone at the FBI’s Norfolk field office late Thursday refused to provide contact information for its media spokeswoman and did not allow a reporter to leave a voice message. That spokeswoman, Christina Pullen, did not immediately respond to an email Thursday seeking comment. The Anne Arundel County Police Department, which has been investigating the shooting, also did not respond to a phone message.
The newspaper where the letter was found, The Virginian-Pilot, reported that the envelope was addressed to Eric Hartley, an editor for its Norfolk and Portsmouth team, according to the newspaper’s website, and the man with whom the suspect, Jarrod W. Ramos, had harbored a long-standing grudge. Hartley had previously worked at the Capital Gazette, where, in 2011, he wrote a column that detailed Ramos’ harassment of a former high school classmate. (Ramos eventually filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Capital, which named Hartley as a defendant, claiming that it had defamed him. Judges dismissed the suit.)
Hartley, who did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday, found what The Virginian-Pilot reported to be a “pink, card-sized envelope in his newsroom mailbox.” The envelope had “anonymous source” written in the top left corner with Hartley’s name and The Virginian-Pilot’s address in the middle, the newspaper said, adding that it was postmarked June 28 — the day of the shooting.
The discovery of the letter comes days after the authorities in Annapolis revealed that Ramos, 38, had sent three other letters just before going to the Capital Gazette and opening fire. Those three letters — which the police called “threatening in nature” and which were also postmarked June 28 — had arrived at the Capital Gazette’s law firm, a Baltimore City courthouse and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Monday.
One of the letters, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, stated Ramos’ “objective of killing every person present.”
On Thursday, no one opened the latest letter before giving it to the Norfolk police, The Virginian-Pilot said, adding that the police told Hartley that the envelope contained an unsigned card and a compact disc. The newspaper said that it was not clear what was on the disc; that there were no messages in the envelope that directly threatened Hartley; and that the unsigned card said, “Smile, you’re on camera” and “It’s your big day. All eyes are on you.”
Marisa Kollias, a spokeswoman for Tronc, The Virginian-Pilot’s parent company, declined to comment Thursday.
It was not yet clear if Ramos had a lawyer.
After the attack, Ramos was arrested after he was found hiding under a desk. He appeared in court last week via video link, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and was denied bail.
The New York Times
Matt Stevens © 2018 The New York Times