A shooting on June 28 in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland left five people dead and one other person injured.
There will be plenty of analysis about the shooter, his motive and mental state, but in this video, we’d like to focus on the victims of this tragic act of violence.
Gerald Fischman edited the editorial page of the Capital Gazette, and had worked there since 1992. According to the paper, he was “the conscience and voice of the Annapolis news organization, writing scathing, insightful and always exacting editorials about the community.”
Co-workers say he had a quiet demeanor that hid a wry and biting sense of humor.
Tom Marquardt, the Gazette’s former executive editor, said that Fischman could have gone to a major metropolitan newspaper, but he was content staying at the Capital Gazette. Fischman had written editorials about mass shootings, as nearly every newspaper in America has in recent years. He wrote compassionate words after tragedies in Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland Florida, and others, and challenged the opposition to gun reforms.
A few days after the massacre at Parkland, he wrote: “simply weaving these atrocities into our national fabric — shrugging and rationalizing that most likely next time it won’t be our church, school or kids — will do worse damage to the nation than even the loss of life. Do we really want to be that sort of country?”
Fischman married late in life, telling his colleagues in a deadpan voice that he’d typed “Mongolian Opera Singer” into a dating website.
Gerald Fischman was 61 years old.
Assistant editor and features columnist Rob Hiaasen had worked at the Capital Gazette since 2010.
His brother, novelist Carl Hiaasen, described him as a passionate journalist and writer who dedicated himself to the newspaper. He had recently celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary with his wife Maria, who turned 58 on the day of the shooting. The couple have three children.
He was described as a goofy storyteller who would get very serious when it came to investigative journalism.
A former Capital Gazette reporter, Tina Reed, described Hiaasen as a mentor. She said “He was a philosopher and a poet. He was a coach and he was a mentor. He wanted to teach young journalists to be better.”
Rob Hiaasen was 59 years old.
56-year-old John McNamara held a variety of positions, including sports editor and reporter, his dream job.
He had published two books on sports at the University of Maryland, University of Maryland Football Vault and Cole Classics! Maryland Basketball’s Leading Men and Moments. His former boss Gerry Jackson praised his flexibility, saying “He could write. He could edit. He could design pages. He was just a jack of all trades and a fantastic person.”
In a recent Facebook post, he had encouraged people to go see documentaries about Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Fred Rogers, writing: “Both are marvelous and moving. And, 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. You can thank me later.”
McNamara leaves his wife, Andrea Chamblee, whom he’d met at the University of Maryland.
Rebecca Smith was a sales assistant who had only worked at the Gazette since November 2017.
As a survivor of endometriosis, a uterine disorder, she worked to raise awareness of the disease.
On his Facebook page, Smith’s fiance DJay wrote: “This cant be real… I will ALWAYS love you, no matter what. 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.”
According to a GoFundMe page set up for her family, Smith acted as a “bonus mom” and best friend to DJay’s daughter Rileigh. She enjoyed attending DJay’s softball games, and a charity game has been scheduled in her honor.
Rebecca Smith was 34 years old.
Wendi Winters worked in fashion and public relations in New York City before moving to Maryland in the 1990s, when she began freelancing for the Capital Gazette.Her articles became so popular and her byline so frequent, that the paper eventually hired her full time.
One of her daughters told the newspaper, “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.” The 65-year-old mother of four was such a prolific writer, she even became well known for her detailed Christmas letters, which contained a baked treat and a month-by-month breakdown of the previous year.
Wendi Winters was a passionate and copious writer who would often publish over 250 stories a year in the Capital Gazette.
Our hearts go out to all the victims’ families during this tragic and painful time.
A journalist for Bloomberg Government, Madi Alexander, started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the victims’ funeral expenses, newsroom repairs, and other unforeseen expenses.
As of this recording, they’ve already raised over $140,000. And hopefully much higher by the time you read this article.To assure transparency and accountability, GoFundMe and the Capital Gazette staff must both approve any withdrawal of funds. You can donate to that fundraiser at gofundme.com/capitalgazette.
Rest In Peace to these five loved and valued human beings and employees of the Capital Gazette.