Five people were killed after a gunman opened fire on the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland Thursday afternoon. The suspected gunman, a 38-year-old white man, had a long-running grudge against the Capital newspaper, and had allegedly harassed its journalists repeatedly for years prior to the incident.
According to police, four of the shooting victims were killed at the scene while a fifth person died of their injuries in the hospital a short while later. Several others were injured in the attack.
Those who survived the incident described the scene as a “war zone,” according to The Baltimore Sun. Staffers hid beneath their desks as the gunman fired and reloaded his shotgun. Police said the suspected gunman used smoke grenades in the attack as well.
Throughout the shooting and in its direct aftermath, Capital Gazette journalists continued reporting, tweeting updates on the incident and refusing to let the attack derail them.
“I don’t know what else to do except this,” reporter Chase Cook said, working from the back of a truck across the street alongside photographer Joshua McKerrow, who had been working offsite and rushed to the scene when he heard about the shooting.
In total, five of their colleagues were killed Thursday afternoon, each one a beloved and irreplaceable member of the Capital Gazette team.
Here are their stories:
Smith, 34, was a sales assistant at the Capital Gazette and a recent hire who “had already proved herself a valuable asset,” The Baltimore Sun’s Jessica Anderson reported.
According to her Facebook page, Smith joined the Capital Gazette in November and was responsible for maintaining the sales office operations each day.
“She was a very thoughtful person. She was kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed,” Capital Gazette advertising director Marty Padden, Smith’s boss, told The Baltimore Sun. “She seemed to really enjoy to be working in the media business.”
Smith was engaged and had one daughter. On Facebook, she described herself as a “Bonus Mom to the best kid ever.”
“This cant be real… I will ALWAYS love you, no matter what,” her fiancé wrote on his own Facebook page Thursday night. “As you used to tell me, ‘You are my human.’ No one ever put up with or attempted to make me a better person like you did. I will love you forever… To the moon and back. … I love you more. Til we meet again beautiful, til we meet again.”
Hiaasen, 59, was an editor at the Capital, one of several papers published by the Capital Gazette. He first joined The Baltimore Sun in 1993 as a features writer, settling into his role at the Capital in 2010, writing a weekly Sunday column as well.
Hiaasen had a “wryly observant writing style and his generous mentoring of young journalists assured him of roles in several newsrooms,” The Baltimore Sun’s Jean Marbella wrote Thursday evening.
“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.”
Hiaasen recently celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary with his wife Maria, a former journalist and current English teacher.
“He was a tall man, 6-foot-5, but he was a giant not just in stature but in character,” Maria told the Sun. “He was just the best husband. He loves words, he loves humor. …He loved journalism, he loved helping those young writers at the Gazette.”
Hiaasen leaves behind three children: Ben, 29, Samantha, 27, and Hannah, 26.
According to The Baltimore Sun’s Yvonne Wenger, Winters, 65, was a “proud Navy mom” and youth leader, and worked as an editor and community news reporter at the Capital.
She spent the early days of her career working in fashion and public relations in New York but later migrated to journalism, moving to Maryland with her four children and establishing herself as “a prolific freelance reporter and well-known community resource.”
“My mother was a wonderful woman and a fantastic reporter,” Winters’ daughter, Winters Geimer, told the Sun. “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 Facebook, friends and family remembered Winters as a compassionate, positive “force of nature.”
“The world is a better place because of her and it will take longer to become better because she is no longer in it,” one friend wrote beneath a photo of Winters on her daughter’s page.
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 29, 2018
McNamara, 56, was a Capital Gazette sports reporter. Beloved by many in the industry, those who worked with him closely remembered “Mac” as a deeply intelligent writer who took on a number of responsibilities during his career.
“At a small paper like that, you have to be versatile,” former Capital Gazette sports editor Gerry Jackson, who first hired him, told The Baltimore Sun’s Andrea K. McDaniels. “He could write. He could edit. He could design pages. He was just a jack of all trades and a fantastic person.”
Barry Svrluga, a sports columnist at the Washington Post, recalled McNamara as “relentlessly kind.”
“John McNamara, who was killed today in the Annapolis shooting, was one of the first five people I met in DC sports media,” Svrluga tweeted Thursday night. “Relentlessly kind from Day One. Incredibly understated. So humble. Loved his job. This is heartbreaking.”
McNamara’s wife, Andrea Chamblee, told the Sun her husband was a “devoted,” loving spouse. “Our biggest argument was about who was lucky enough to have the other,” she said. “He was devoted to his friends and family. He was devoted to his craft and he was devoted to me.”
On Facebook, only two and a half weeks prior to his death, McNamara had posted a short review of the documentaries RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, about Fred Rogers, the late host of the beloved children’s show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In the post, McNamara urged others to see the two films, praising their positive messages.
“In these troubled times, when the forces of darkness seem to have gained the upper hand, it’s nice to be reminded that there is still justice and kindness in the world,” he wrote.
— Sun Breaking News (@BaltSunBrk) June 29, 2018
Fischman, 61, had been working at the Capital since 1992. According to The Baltimore Sun’s Erin Cox, the editorial columnist was beloved by his colleagues for his “brilliant mind, wry wit and ‘wicked pen.'”
“For more than 25 years, Fischman was the conscience and voice of the Annapolis news organization, writing scathing, insightful and always exacting editorials about the community,” Cox wrote Thursday. “He was the guardian against libel, the arbiter of taste and a peculiar and endearing figure in a newsroom full of characters.”
Fischman’s coworkers recalled the many late nights he would spend at the paper, hammering out editorials and leaving them on their desks with sticky notes and requests for fact-checks in the morning.
“He was kind of a mysterious guy. He wasn’t social, and this was the most interaction we had with him. It was a testament to his work. We used to joke that he had them printed in mass,” former Capital Gazette reporter Joshua Stewart told the Sun.
Marquardt, the paper’s former editor and publisher, remembered the columnist, who married an opera singer late in life, as an endearing workplace character and an incredibly intelligent writer.
“He had ability that, I thought, deserved a higher calling than The Capital,” Marquardt said.
The Baltimore Sun has compiled a list of his editorials for further reading, here.