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‘Celebration of life’ services scheduled for journalists slain in Maryland newspaper shooting

Relatives of Rob Hiassen say attire at the service will be casual. The beloved columnist "would never want you to put on a suit for him."

People light candles during a candlelight vigil to honor the 5 people were shot and killed at the Capital Gazette newpaper yesterday, on June 29, 2018 in Annapolis, Maryland. CREDIT: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
People light candles during a candlelight vigil to honor the 5 people were shot and killed at the Capital Gazette newpaper yesterday, on June 29, 2018 in Annapolis, Maryland. CREDIT: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Memorial services are scheduled Monday for two of the five journalists killed last week when a gunman opened fire in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.

According to The Baltimore Sun, a “celebration of life” for assistant editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, who was 59, will be held at the Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills. An online invitation said that “Rob would never want you to put on a suit for him, so the dress is ‘summer casual’ and shorts are welcomed.”

The service for Wendi Winters, a reporter and editor who was killed at 65, will be held July 7. The service will be preceded by a vigil for all five of the victims of last week’s shooting.

“In lieu of flowers,” one of her children wrote, “please make a donation to the Girl Scouts of America, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or the American Red Cross.”

All of the victims of Thursday’s shooting have been memorialized by friends and family in recent days. The Baltimore Sun’s Jean Marbella wrote that Hiaasen had a “wryly observant writing style and his generous mentoring of young journalists assured him of roles in several newsrooms,”

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“He could be deadly serious about doing investigative reporting, but he also had a soft side,” Tom Marquardt, former editor and publisher of the Capital Gazette, told the outlet. “He had a special insight into people’s lives and their character. What Rob really brought to the game was his great writing ability and sense of humor. …He was a great mentor to younger reporters.”

Of Winters, her daughter told the Sun, “My mother was a wonderful woman and a fantastic reporter. 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.”

On Saturday, Salon reported that the accused shooter, Jarrod Ramos, had links to the extremist white nationalist movements of the far right. One source told Salon that the shooting itself was not politically motivated but that Ramos had been personally influence by the so-called “alt-right.”

Researcher Fred Clarkson agreed, telling Salon, “Ramos… [seems] to have been drawn into the orbit of far-right visions of anti-democratic violence, even as they seem to have ultimately acted on their own.”

According to Salon, Ramos had tweeted about only two political figures, President Trump and white nationalist Michael Peroutka. Ramos’ Twitter avatar is a picture of former Capital Gazette columnist Eric Hartley with a symbol connected to ritual murder drawn on his head.

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The far right has been openly celebrating Thursday’s mass shooting, too, in the days since, as the Southern Poverty Law Center reported last week.

“We don’t give a fuck about you, journalist,” tweeted Nicholas Fuentes, a YouTube personality who attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Wowza. Maybe it was a Jew, but probably a goy,” another far right activist known as AltonRocht wrote on the white supremacist website The Daily Stormer.

“Let’s try to push an offensive narrative for this. The media, and the anti-white forces in American mean that these shootings will grow more frequent.”