Capital Gazette shooting suspect barricaded door, preventing staffers from escaping rampage

The Capital Gazette killer barricaded an exit door and shot at least one fleeing victim during his brief but bloody rampage at the Maryland newspaper Thursday, a prosecutor said.

Jarrod Warren Ramos, 38, has been charged in the murder of five staffers at the paper.

Wes Adams, a Maryland prosecutor, said Friday one person tried to escape the terror but was thwarted by Ramos.

Jarrod ramos

Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder on Friday.

 (Anne Arundel Co. Dept. of Detention Facilities)

“There was one victim that attempted to escape through the back door and was shot,” Adams said.

The prosecutor said Ramos “entered through the front door and worked his way through the office, where he shot victims as he walked through the office.” 

Police said Ramos explicitly targeted the newspaper. On Friday, a judge ordered Ramos held without bond pending a trial. Earlier on Friday, Ramos was charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

Ramos appeared before Judge Thomas Pryal on Friday wearing a green detention suit in a video court appearance. The suspect said nothing but watched attentively, the Associated Press reported. Authorities have described the suspect as being uncooperative.

In this June 28 2018 photo released by the Anne Arundel Police, Jarrod Warren Ramos poses for a photo, in Annapolis, Md. First-degree murder charges were filed Friday against Ramos who police said targeted Maryland's capital newspaper, shooting his way into the newsroom and killing four journalists and a staffer before officers swiftly arrested him. (Anne Arundel Police via AP)

Jarrod Warren Ramos was ordered held without bond pending a trial on Friday, June 29, 2018.

 (Anne Arundel Police via AP)

Adams said the judge’s finding that Ramos was a danger to society is justified because of evidence that he carefully planned the attack barricading the back door so victims couldn’t escape, before using “a tactical approach in hunting down and shooting the innocent people.”

The five Gazette staffers killed in the attack were identified as Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rebecca Smith, and Rob Hiaasen. Two other employees, Rachel Pacella and Janet Cooley were injured in the attack and treated at a hospital before being released.

Winters was the special publications editor. McNamara was a writer. Fischman was editorial page editor. Smith was a sales assistant. Hiaasen was an assistant editor and columnist.

Police held a final press conference on the shooting on Friday stating the suspect used a pump-action shotgun that he legally purchased about a year or so ago. The suspect was also carrying smoke grenades.

Anne Arundel County Chief Timothy Altomare said, “The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could.”

Altomare said authorities were not searching for any other suspects in connection with the shooting and said they had no reason to believe that anyone else was involved. Police obtained a search warrant at the suspect’s apartment and found evidence that showed the “origination of planning.” Altomare said he believed the attack was planned. He said investigators did not find a written manifesto in the residence.

Crime scene tape surrounds a building housing The Capital Gazette newspaper's offices, Friday, June 29, 2018, in Annapolis, Md. A man armed with smoke grenades and a shotgun attacked journalists in the building Thursday, killing several people before police quickly stormed the building and arrested him, police and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Crime scene tape surrounds a building housing The Capital Gazette newspaper’s offices on Friday, June 29, 2018, in Annapolis, Md.

 (AP)

Altomare said investigators were able to identify the suspect using quickly with help of facial recognition technology from the Maryland Image Repository System. The chief refused to say the suspect’s name, refusing to give him the satisfaction of identifying him by name.

The chief said the Capital Gazette declined to press charges against Ramos over social media threat he made against the newspaper in 2013. Further details were not immediately available.

Altomare said some 300 law enforcement officers from different agencies were on the scene that day to help capture the suspect who was found hiding under a desk at the officer.

“Every cop from all those agencies was a part of how we saved these people’s lives yesterday, I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Altomare said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Latino non-profit faces questions over big money, involvement in immigrant kids’ housing

As debate continues over the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, questions are being asked about a non-profit group that has collected huge amounts of government money to house and care for thousands of immigrant children being held in the system.

Texas-based Southwest Key Programs has taken in roughly $1 billion in federal contracts since the Obama administration, and is expected to receive about $500 million this year to house and provide services for immigrant children, according to reports. 

And Southwest officials receive significant compensation for their efforts. WQAD reported tax filings show Juan Sanchez, the group’s founder and CEO, received nearly $1.5 million in 2016 – nearly twice the previous year’s salary, of $786,822. His wife, Jennifer, vice president of Southwest Key, received about $280,000 in 2015 in total compensation, WQAD reported.

Sanchez, who according to his biography information grew up in a poor neighborhood in South Texas and went on to receive a doctorate in education from Harvard University, is a well-connected figure in the Latino community. Hispanic Business Magazine ranked Southwest Key number four in its list of the top 25 Latino non-profits in the country several years ago. And the League of United Latin American Citizens honored Sanchez with its “Rise to the Challenge” award.

From 2007 to 2013, Sanchez also served on the board of the former National Council of La Raza (NCLR), which was one of the nation’s largest and oldest Latino advocacy groups.

La Raza was at the forefront of fighting for many issues of importance to Hispanics. But it was also long criticized by those who charge that it is racist, and sympathetic to separatist ideology. The group rebranded, and changed its name in 2017 to UnidosUS. 

Another board member, Anselmo Villarreal, was on the NCLR board from 2006 to 2012. Villarreal is president and chief executive of Wisconsin-based La Casa de Esperanza, which provides services to immigrants at locations nationwide.

Villarreal has taken high-profile positions against Trump immigration policies, and last month participated in a march against a Wisconsin county’s plans to work with federal immigration officials.

Young immigrants are lifted over a puddle as they arrive with their parents at the Catholic Charities RGV after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

 (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Despite the huge government contracts, Sanchez and Southwest Key Programs stayed on the margins of public awareness – and controversy – until recently. Now the group faces more scrutiny for, among other things, operating the largest licensed shelter for immigrant children in the United States.

A 250,000-square-foot facility at a former WalMart superstore in Brownsville, Texas, today houses some 1,500 boys between the ages of 10 and 17 who illegally entered the U.S. Southwest Key bought the facility in 2016, but its former owners aren’t happy with how it’s turned out.

“We’re really disturbed by how our former store is being used,” Walmart said in a tweet on Wednesday. “When we sold the building in 2016 we had no idea it’d be used for this.”

Southwest Key holds a total of more than 5,000 immigrant children, about 10 percent of whom are said to have been separated from their families since May, when the new policy was announced. Its shelters for immigrants minors are in Texas, Arizona and California.

Juan Sanchez

Southwest Key Programs CEO Juan Sanchez

 (Southwest Key Programs)

Many Latinos, lawmakers, and immigrant rights activists fuming over the idea that a charity whose image was one of standing up for Latino and underprivileged children is actively involved in the housing of minors. Even Southwest Key’s own board of directors are divided over its role.

“It’s inhumane to me,” Southwest Key’s board treasurer Rosa Santis said to the Boston Globe. “I think it’s terrible that they’re really separating kids from their parents.”

Cynthia Valadez, a deputy director at the Austin chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), told the Globe Sanchez “is enabling the federal government to divide us and imprison us and separate us.”

“It is a tragedy that in our own Latino community we have someone who is setting himself up to be a Latino leader who is making money off the imprisonment of children and the suffering that’s been inflicted.”

In an effort that appeared aimed at the growing criticism, Southwest Key’s website now includes a message expressing opposition to the separation of families at the border, and stressing its role in helping children.

“For 30 years, our work in offering youth justice alternatives, immigrant children’s shelters, and education has served to improve the lives of thousands of young people,” the message said. “We believe keeping families together is better for the children, parents and our communities, and we remain committed to providing compassionate care and reunification.”

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

“For every child who has come through our shelter doors, we start on day one to reunite them with their parents or a family sponsor and to provide the kind of service that will help them thrive. This has been our priority for decades.”

Efforts by Fox News to interview Sanchez, the CEO, were unsuccessful. He did speak to some media outlets earlier in the week.

“We’re not the bad guys,” Sanchez told KRGV-TV. “We’re the good guys. We’re the people taking these kids, putting them in a shelter — providing the best care that we can for them and reunite them with their families.”

Sanchez told the Boston Globe there were discussions at Southwest Key about its role in housing children who were in the custody of the U.S. government because of immigration violations. “What we see are kids without families. We don’t see policy, we see kids with needs … Our focus is on taking care of the kids.”

Sanchez also said there were no plans to curtail his group’s activities, despite the criticism.

“If we don’t do the work we do, somebody else is going to do the work,” Sanchez said. “These are people who do not understand these kids’ language or these kids’ culture…There would be plenty of other folks who would take this on and not care.”

On its website, the non-profit says it “contracts with government agencies and private foundations to operate three types of programs throughout the country: youth justice programs, charter schools for kids in underserved neighborhoods, and shelters for immigrant youth.”

Some immigrant and Latino rights groups argued it is better for non-profits such as Southwest Key and religious organizations to take over the day-to-day care of the children than to leave it to private prison management companies.

“Southwest has a track record of caring for kids outside of [the immigration issue],” said Clarissa Martinez-de-Castro, deputy vice president of UnidosUS. “What we’re talking about here is that these organizations do not support the immigration and detention policy, they do not lobby the administration to conduct itself in this way.”

“They are running a shelter, not a detention center. Their work has always been driven by providing for the welfare of children.”

Lupe Torres, director of the Texas chapter of LULAC, told Fox News a Latino-run charity is the best positioned to make the children, who are from Latin American countries, as comfortable as possible given the common language and culture most of staff share with the minors.

“That doesn’t mean it doesn’t give me discomfort that these children are held in shelters right now,” said Torres. “It’s a moral issue. But Southwest Key have a program that offers better understanding and sensitivity to these children and they have a humane way of dealing with the trauma these children are going through.”

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.

 

Nevada sets 1st execution in 12 years after fight over drugs

Nevada plans to carry out its first execution in 12 years using a never-before-tried combination of drugs that drew a court challenge over concerns that a convicted murderer could suffer during the lethal injection.

Scott Raymond Dozier is scheduled to die July 11, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Santina said Wednesday, a day after a judge in Las Vegas signed the death warrant.

It comes after the state Supreme Court decided last month not to stop the execution on procedural grounds despite challenges by lawyers and a rights group, who argued that the procedure would be less humane than putting down a pet. There also were concerns that some of the state’s drugs would have expired.

“We have what we need to complete the execution order,” Santina told The Associated Press. “The same three drugs. We have some that are not expired.”

Dozier’s death warrant was signed Tuesday by Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti, who last November blocked the scheduled execution over concerns that one drug in the three-drug cocktail would immobilize the inmate and mask any signs of pain and suffering. The warrant didn’t address her previous concerns.

Batches of the disputed muscle paralytic called cisatracurium began expiring April 1, but Santina has said the state had supplies that were good until Nov. 30.

The sedative diazepam, the powerful painkiller fentanyl and the paralytic cisatracurium have never been used for lethal injections in any state. Diazepam is commonly known as Valium. Fentanyl is synthetic opioid that has been blamed for overdose deaths nationwide during an opioid epidemic.

Nevada and other states have struggled in recent years to find drugs after pharmaceutical companies and distributors banned their use for executions.

Dozier, 47, has been on death row since 2007 for convictions in separate murders in Phoenix and Las Vegas. He has said repeatedly that he wants to be put to death as soon as possible and doesn’t care what drugs are used.

Dozier, who also used the name Chad Wyatt, would become the first person put to death in Nevada since 2006. His death would mark the first lethal injection since a new execution chamber was completed in 2016 at Ely State Prison, 250 miles (402 kilometers) north of Las Vegas.

Aides to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt did not immediately respond to messages Wednesday.

Jonathan Van Boskerck, a chief deputy Clark County district attorney involved in nearly a year of court hearings over Dozier’s fate, pointed to the death sentence by a jury and the state high court ruling last month.

“The decision of this jury deserves respect,” he said.