Gunman held, newspaper publishes a day after five killed in newsroom

World Today

The Capital Gazette of June 29, 2018, in Annapolis, Maryland, announces the victims of the June 28 shooting at the media outlet’s offices. (L-R) Editorial Page Editor Gerald Fischman, Assistant Editor and Columnist Rob Hiaasen, writer John McNamara, Sales Assistant Rebecca Smith, and Special Publications Editor Wendi Winters. (AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN)

A gunman who blasted his way through a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, with a shotgun, killing at least five people in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history, was in custody on Friday pending charges, authorities said.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

The gunman entered the Capital Gazette newspaper group on Thursday afternoon and opened fired through a glass door, looked for victims and then sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, police and a witness said.

Rob Hiaasen, 59, Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara were shot and killed, the acting police chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, William Krampf, told a news conference.

Smith was a sales assistant and the others were journalists, he said.

The Annapolis newspaper The Capital, part of the Gazette group, published an edition on Friday with photographs of each of the victims along with “5 shot dead at The Capital” as a headline in large bold lettering on its front page.

Police had not released the name of the suspect in custody and tweeted that the suspect not been booked.

But Capital Gazette and the Baltimore Sun named the suspect as Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Annapolis, citing law enforcement. Annapolis is the state capital of Maryland and part of the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.

Ramos had brought a defamation lawsuit in 2012 against Eric Hartley, formerly a staff writer and columnist with Capital Gazette, and Thomas Marquardt, then its editor and publisher, according to a court filing.

According to a legal document, an article contended that Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment.

The court agreed that the contents of the article were accurate and based on public records, the document showed, and in 2015, Maryland’s second-highest court upheld the ruling rejecting Ramos’s suit.

Ramos tweeted that he had set up a Twitter account to defend himself, and wrote in his biographical notes that he was suing people in Anne Arundel County and “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”

Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter, said he had been hiding under his desk along with other newspaper employees when the shooter stopped firing, the Capital Gazette reported on its website.
The newsroom looked “like a war zone,” he told the Baltimore Sun.

Capital Gazette runs several newspapers out of its Annapolis office. They include one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, The Gazette, which traces its origins back to 1727.

Slain newspaper employees were dedicated to work, community

GERALD FISCHMAN

This image obtained from the Capital Gazette shows Capital Gazette Editorial Page Editor Gerald Fischman, one of the victims of the June 28, 2018, shooting at the newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. (AFP PHOTO / Capital Gazette)

Gerald Fischman, the editorial page editor at the Capital Gazette, was an “old-fashioned journalist,” a former editor of the paper said.

Steve Gunn remembered Fischman as “the master of AP style” who “made sure everything was just right.”

“He was famous for working long days and being very precise in his language and always making sure the editorial page reflected the heart of the newspaper,” Gunn said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Fischman had worked at the paper for 26 years.

Reporters and others who knew Fischman told the Baltimore Sun he was quirky, smart and capable of putting local politicians on guard.

“When I sat for my endorsement interviews in 2010, he made it clear to me it was to be earned and by no means was guaranteed,” former two-term Anne Arundel County Councilman Jamie Benoit told the newspaper. “He asked tough questions and exposed every weakness in my legislative record. He treated council races like they were presidential races.”

ROB HIAASEN

This image obtained from the Capital Gazette shows Capital Gazette Assistant Editor and Columnist Rob Hiaasen, one of the victims of the June 28, 2018, shooting at the newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. (AFP PHOTO / Capital Gazette)

Journalist Rob Hiaasen’s family is “devastated” by his death, said his brother, author Carl Hiaasen.

Carl Hiaasen, a prolific novelist and a longtime columnist for the Miami Herald, confirmed that his brother, also a columnist and an editor, was one of the Annapolis victims.

In a brief phone call with The Associated Press, Carl Hiaasen said his family “was devastated beyond words” by the senseless killing of his brother at the Capital Gazette.

“He was the most remarkable person. So gifted and talented and dedicated to journalism,” he said, his voice choked with emotion.

Saying he was too wracked with grief to speak further, Hiaasen referred an AP reporter to something he had just posted to his Facebook page, describing Rob as one of the most “gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.”

Gunn, the former Capital Gazette editor, said Rob Hiaasen was a “gifted editor who had an aura of an artist around him who made people want to make journalism a beautiful craft.”

JOHN McNAMARA

This image obtained from the Capital Gazette shows Capital Gazette writer John McNamara, one of the victims of the June 28, 2018, shooting at the newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
A man armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades burst into the newspaper office on June 28, killing five employees in what police described as a “targeted attack.” (AFP PHOTO / Capital Gazette)

John McNamara was a longtime employee of the newspaper who had worked as a sports writer and copy editor and moved more recently to a weekly publication, the Bowie Blade-News, colleague David Broughton said.

Broughton, the paper’s sports editor, said he had worked with McNamara since 1994 and sat in a neighboring cubicle.

“I could hear his conversations (at the newspaper),” said Broughton. He was just a really thoughtful guy and a very intellectual guy. He could have an intelligent conversation about anything, whether it was politics or travel or English literature.”

McNamara was an avid basketball player with a self-deprecating sense of humor and bellowing laugh who had married his college sweetheart, Broughton said.

“He often said that marrying her was his greatest accomplishment,” Broughton said.

Gunn said McNamara was workmanlike — “classic come to work and tell me what I need to do.”

REBECCA SMITH

Rebecca Smith was a sales assistant at the Capital Gazette.

Her boss, Capital Gazette advertising director Marty Padden, described her as a thoughtful person who made sure the sales office ran smoothly.

“She was kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed. She seemed to really enjoy to be working in the media business,” Padden told The Baltimore Sun .

Kelli Peleska, who played softball with Smith’s fiance, said Smith attended games and traveled to tournaments with the team.

“She was the absolute most beautiful person. The biggest heart and a great loss to this world,” Peleska said Thursday night.

WENDI WINTERS

This image obtained from the Capital Gazette shows Capital Gazette Special Publications Editor Wendi Winters, one of the victims of the June 28, 2018, shooting at the newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. (AFP PHOTO / Capital Gazette)

Special publications editor Wendi Winters was “the heart of the newspaper,” Gunn said.

Winters was passionate about serving the community and was a role model for younger journalists, he recalled.

“She was in many ways the best part of the newspaper in that she cared so much about the city,” he said.

The Sun reported the 65-year-old mother of four moved to Maryland 20 years ago after a career in fashion and public relations in New York.

“My mother was a wonderful woman and a fantastic reporter,” daughter Winters Geimer told the newspaper. “Her life was a gift to everyone who knew her and the world will not be the same without her. We are grieving and trying to make sure all of us can be together to celebrate the life of our mother.”

Story by Reuters and the Associated Press.

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