The Capital Gazette: A local newspaper covers their own tragedy

Digital Originals

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

The Capital Gazette, based in Annapolis, MD, is in a family of local papers owned by The Baltimore Sun. Their coverage includes mostly life, culture, sports, and civic affairs for the Eastern Shore community.

Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD (PHOTO: AFP)

At approximately 2:40 p.m., a then unidentified man armed with smoke grenades and a shotgun entered the first floor offices of the newspaper and began shooting.

Phil Davis

As the deadly shooting was taking place, Capital Gazette crime reporter Phil Davis texted a police spokesperson he had been working with earlier in the day. (PHOTO: Capital Gazette)

Reporters who were in the building said in their own newspaper that

“…they dived under their desk for protection… tried not to breathe or make any sounds, some screamed and others pleaded for help on Twitter.”

Crime reporter, Phil Davis, had been in contact with Annapolis Police spokeswoman, Sgt. Amy Miguez, for a story earlier in the day.

At 2:41 p.m. he texted Miguez again:

“Help. Shooting at office.”

After realizing it was not a joke, Sgt. Miguez called 911.

Also fearing for his life, Capital Gazette intern Anthony Messenger tweeted:

Minutes later, police stormed the building and arrested the shooter. But not before five journalists for the paper had been fatally shot, and several more gravely injured.

The Capital and The Baltimore Sun would now find themselves reporting a tragedy among their closest friends and colleagues:

The shooting was the the 154th mass shooting of 2018, according to nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

K-9 police unit

A K-9 police unit works the scene after multiple people were shot at a newspaper office building in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Only moments after escaping with his life, Davis began tweeting his experience.

And Capital photojournalist Joshua McKerrow, who had not been in the building, began covering the police operation.

As authorities secured the area and began investigating the attack, other journalists and friends from the newspaper checked in with one another.

Expressions of sympathy came in from all over the world. Including thoughts and prayers from political leaders.

During an interview with CNN, Capital Gazette reporters Davis and Celine San Felice — who had both covered mass shooting in the past — shared both their experiences and expectations.

Jarrod Warren Ramos

Jarrod Warren Ramos poses for a photo, in Annapolis, Md. (Anne Arundel Police via AP)

By mid-evening, law enforcement sources revealed the shooting suspect’s identity.

Jarrod Ramos, is a 38-year-old former federal employee. Ramos had lost a 2015 defamation case against the paper. The newspaper had earlier reported about Ramos and a criminal harassment case he was involved in.

Employees at the Capital Gazette said he had been making threats against the paper since 2011.

Authorities also released the names of those who had been slain that day. Among the dead were both seasoned journalists and new employees.

Their colleagues and loved ones reflected upon those lost:Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters.

Former colleagues also shared their remembrances.

READ: The Capital Gazette’s tribute to their fallen colleagues

Throughout the day, Capital Gazette reporters, still recovering from trauma, had gathered in a parking garage near their office.

Working late into the night, the Capital Gazette staff managed to create the next days edition.

Which was delivered to their community on time, and in full.

Capital Gazette newspaper rack

A Capital Gazette newspaper rack displays the day’s front page, Friday, June 29, 2018, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

With one exception.

Opinion section of The Capital Gazette’s June 29 edition. Click on image for full view.