Capital Gazette intern recalls shooting in ‘Today’ interview: ‘It was sickening’

WASHINGTON — Anthony Messenger had only started working in the Capital Gazette’s sports department four weeks ago. The thought that he might see people die during his internship never crossed his mind, he said.

Messenger retold the story of Thursday’s shooting at the Annapolis, Maryland, newsroom during an interview with NBC’s “Today,” saying he’s still trying to digest the entire incident.

“We see these things on the news all the time,” said Messenger. “Unfortunately, we’re kind of desensitized to it.”

When he heard the first shot, he said, he thought it was fireworks. “I saw some faces that looked concerned but I couldn’t see a shooter or anything. [Then] I saw that the glass doors that open up to our office were blown out.”

At the sound of the second shot, Messenger and his colleague, Selene San Felice, ran toward a door, but it was jammed.

The colleagues huddled under a desk and Messenger called police. “In that moment, I thought I was going to die,” Messenger recalled.

Felice used Messenger’s phone to text her mother and send out a tweet that read, “Active shooter 888 Bestgate. Please help us.”

As they all tried to get to safety, Messenger recalled having to pass the bodies of two colleagues who had been shot — “something that nobody should ever have to stomach.”

Messenger said he wasn’t entirely aware of the suspect’s history with the newspaper and that he had no idea who was shooting until after the fact.

“It’s unfortunate that someone would come into a place that only reports truthful stories that are fact-based and unleash hell on the office,” Messenger said. “We try to keep our eyes off the ground, but inevitably, we all as journalists — we were all kind of curious. It was sickening.”

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