Five dead in 'targeted attack' on US newsroom
A man armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades burst into a newspaper office in the US city of Annapolis on Thursday, killing five people in what police described as a "targeted attack."
Officials said the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper was carried out by a white adult male resident of Maryland state who was being questioned in custody.
A reporter for the historic daily, which predates the United States, tweeted a chilling account of how the "gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees."
"There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload," crime reporter Phil Davis said.
There were five fatalities and two superficial injuries, the acting police chief of Anne Arundel county, Bill Krampf, told a news conference in Maryland's capital.
"This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette," Krampf said.
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 added.
Still going to print
Capital Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts tweeted that he was "devastated & heartbroken. Numb."
"I'm in no position to speak, just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day. There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays - just a passion for telling stories from our community," DeButts wrote.
Chase Cook, a reporter at the newspaper, said the shooting would not stop The Capital - the local print edition - from going to press.
"I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow," he tweeted.
Gracie Rustin, a dental assistant who was in the middle of a procedure on the second floor of the building when the attack took place, heard "loud noises" but did not immediately realise it was a shooting.
Then police rushed in and "were like, 'Leave, leave, leave!'" Rustin told AFP.
President Donald Trump, who has been at loggerheads with much of the media since taking office, tweeted a message of support.
"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," he wrote.
A recent study found that Americans own 40 percent of the world's firearms despite accounting for only four percent of the global population.
Advocates of tougher gun laws have stepped up their efforts in the wake of numerous school shootings this year, including the killing of 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school in February and the killing of 10 people at a Texas high school in May.