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Maryland newsroom shooting rooted in man's harassment of a woman on social media

Washington (CNN) In July 2011, an article in a Maryland newspaper titled "Jarrod wants to be your friend" told of how a man had befriended a former female high school classmate on Facebook and began a "yearlong nightmare" of harassing her over the Internet.

The article published in the Capital Gazette identified the man as Jarrod Warren Ramos -- the suspect in Thursday's deadly shooting at the Maryland paper's newsroom.

Nearly seven years ago, Ramos pleaded guilty to a harassment charge in the District Court of Maryland, according to court documents.

After connecting on Facebook, Ramos sent the woman messages asking for help, calling her vulgar names, and telling her to kill herself, according to the Gazette article, written by former staffer Eric Thomas Hartley.

"'I tried to slowly back away from it, and he just started getting angry and vulgar to the point I had to tell him to stop,' she told the judge. 'And he was not OK with that,"' the article said, quoting the victim, who asked not to be named.

The woman also claimed in court that Ramos had emailed and called her company, leading her to be put on probation and eventually laid off, according to Hartley's article.

The story mentioned that Ramos attended Arundel High School, studied computer engineering and was an employee of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ramos was ultimately placed on 18 months of supervised probation and was ordered to continue therapy, court documents show.

Hartley's article was published less than a week after Ramos' conviction and ran in the Sunday edition of the Capital Gazette in 2011.

Court records show that a year later, in July 2012, Ramos filed a complaint against Hartley and the newspaper, alleging he was defamed by the story.

Months later, Ramos filed another complaint and added a charge of invasion of privacy. The case was eventually dismissed.

A Twitter account with Ramos' name and the handle @EricHartleyFrnd is believed to be Ramos', a law enforcement source said. The account has tweeted several times about the paper and Hartley.

"Eric Thomas Harley knows from experience, but doesn't appreciate how bad it can get. Journalist Hell awaits," a tweet from the account in December 2015 read.

In November 2015, he tweeted: "In anticipation of forthcoming rape and murder, I am now officially more famous than Jarrod Radnich. Thanks JabbaTH." The tweet captioned a screenshot of a Google search showing the name "Jarrod Ramos" appearing above "Jarrod Radnich" in the search bar.

On Thursday afternoon, authorities were questioning Ramos but were unaware of the motive behind the shooting.

Threats against the paper had been made as recently as the day of the shooting, Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief Bill Krampf said. The threats were general in nature but indicated violence, Krampf said.

Ramos is believed to have used a long gun to kill the five people at the Gazette and injure three others. He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, according to court records. Local police called it a "targeted attack."

Anne Arundel County Executive Steven Schuh told CNN he was found hiding under a desk in the building when police arrived.

Ramos, who is in his 30s, did not have any identification with him when he was arrested, according to a law enforcement source.

Two law enforcement sources said his fingerprints appeared to have been altered, which made it difficult to identify him, but one law enforcement source said he was identified through facial recognition software.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Melanie Hicken, Hollie Silverman, Janet DiGiacomo and Darran Simon contributed to this report.
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