Journalists at The Capital Gazette worked out of a makeshift office in a pickup truck to put out Friday’s paper as scheduled.
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Just before 2:40 p.m. on Thursday, a gunman shot through the glassdoor of the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md. Journalists hid underneath desks as a gunman used a long-arm shotgun to open fire on newspaper employees, killing five and injuring two.
Authorities said they responded within one minute of the attack and later confirmed the victims to be assistant editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; community correspondent and special publications head Wendi Winters, 65; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; staff writer John McNamara, 56; and sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34.
Journalists initially reported the experience on Twitter. A summer intern at the paper, Anthony Messenger, tweeted, “Please help us,” along with the office address.
“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” wrote Phil Davis, a staff reporter covering courts and crime.
The attack marked the 154th mass shooting in 2018, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. That’s nearly one per day so far this year.
Reporters, photographers and editors came together after the attack to form a makeshift office in a pickup truck, working out of a local mall parking garage. They successfully put out Friday’s paper with in-depth biographies for each slain colleague. The Capital Gazette’s staff has been covering developments firsthand ever since on the newspaper’s website.
“I don’t know what else to do except this,” said staff reporter Chase Cook in a piece written by his colleagues.
A Washington journalist started a GoFundMe campaign for the Capital Gazette and staff victims that, at time of writing, had raised almost $123,000 in 19 hours.
“Gerald, Rob, Wendi, John and Rebecca will never be forgotten,” said Trif Alatzas, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Capital Gazette’s parent company, The Baltimore Sun Media Group, in a statement on Friday. “They were not only our colleagues but also our friends.” Alatzas said the publications will continue to honor the victims’ memories by supporting staff and continuing their mission to deliver the news.
At a Friday news conference, officials called the shooting a coordinated attack and mentioned the rear door of the building had been barricaded.
“The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could kill,” said Timothy Altomare, police chief for Maryland’s Anne Arundel County.
The Anne Arundel County police department did not respond to a request for comment.
Alleged shooter Jarrod Warren Ramos, 38, who had for years tried to unsuccessfully sue the paper for defamation, hid under a desk as police entered the newsroom. He allegedly did not cooperate with police in custody, but authorities were able to use facial recognition technology to identify him. On Friday morning, he was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, and he will be held without bail until his trial date.
On Friday, Maryland’s flags were lowered to half-staff.