Capital Gazette: Victims remembered in first edition after attack

Maryland newspaper publishes Friday edition just hours after four of its journalists and one staffer were shot dead.

Capital Gazette newspaper
The Capital put out a Friday edition hours after a gunman fatally shot five of their employees [Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press]

Maryland newspaper The Capital put out a Friday edition hours after a gunman shot dead five people working in the Capital Gazette newsroom. 

The attacker opened fire at the office of the Capital Gazette newspaper group on Thursday afternoon in what police called a “targeted attack”. 

The suspect, Jarrod Ramos, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder on Friday morning. Police have not established a motive for the attack.

According to local media, Ramos had a long-running feud with the newspaper. 

The Friday edition of the Annapolis paper paid tribute to the five victims of the shooting, which included four journalists and one staffer. 

The first page of the newspaper’s opinion section was left blank to commemorate the victims.

“Today, we are left speechless,” it read. 

The victims included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper’s assistant managing editor; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; Wendi Winters, 65, a features reporter; 56-year-old sports reporter John McNamara and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant. 

Grieving reporters at the Capital Gazette came together shortly after the shooting to put out Friday’s edition. Online, the newspaper group published a story for each of the victims of the attack. 

“I can’t sleep, so I’ll do the only thing I can and report,” crime reporter Phil Davis wrote on Twitter as he shared information about the charges against Ramos. 

“I don’t know what else to do except this,” reporter Chase Cook told the Baltimore Sun, which is part of the same group as the Capital Gazette, as he worked on a story about the shooting.

Cook and a number of other Capital Gazette employees expressed their disbelief over the incident online. 

Many also remembered the victims by sharing what it was like to work with them. 

“[Rob Hiaasen] called me this morning asking about a headline clarification,” Cook said on Twitter. “He was an amazing editor who made me a better reporter,” he added. 

“My heart breaks for all at The Capital,” wrote New York Times editor Tom Jolly on Twitter. “I never felt such camaraderie or learned as much as I did in my 4 years there,” he added. “We were part of the community in a way that only a local paper can be. And we were brothers and sisters in and out of the office, which adds to today’s grief.” 

“It was an honor to try to capture Gerald Fischman, a fascinating and brilliant man who earned the respect of his colleagues – and quietly amused them,” said Erin Cox, who wrote about Fischman for the Capital Gazette. 

“Wendi touched my life, my friend’s and my mother’s,” wrote Twitter user Warren Baltimore III. “She built the Teen of the Week program and made it her mission to recognize and commend as many outstanding students as she could. I am so grateful for her journalistic work.” 

‘Sickening’ attack

Journalists, politicians and rights organisations condemned the attack on social media

“Supporting local journalism is important, what happened today is sickening,” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted.

She noted that “Trump is the only president in memory to call the press ‘the enemy of the people’.”

Trump said his “thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families”, while thanking the first responders in a tweet. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “Journalists tell the stories of our communities, protect democracy, & often put their lives on the line just to do their jobs.

“Today’s attack in Annapolis is devastating.” 

The Committee to Protect Journalists said they were “appalled” by the shooting.

In a statement, the organisation’s executive director Joel Simon said: “Violence against journalists is unacceptable, and we welcome the thorough investigation into the motivations behind the shooting.” 

Thursday’s attack was the deadliest day for journalism in the US since 9/11. 

Source: Al Jazeera