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Who they were: 5 killed in Capital Gazette shooting

The front page of the Capital News-Gazette June 29, 2018. (WTOP/John Domen)

WASHINGTON — Five people were killed when a gunman targeted a Maryland newspaper Thursday.

The victims — Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara and Wendi Winters — were all employees of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis.

Fischman and McNamara were graduates of the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism; Hiaasen was an adjunct lecturer, the college said in a statement Thursday.

“We’re heartbroken,” said Dean Lucy Dalglish in the statement. “This was a senseless attack on journalists who worked hard to serve their community. We cannot stop thinking about our friends and colleagues in Annapolis and their families.”

More on the victims:

Wendi Winters

Winters, 65, was the special publications editor who had a talent for “connecting with the community and documenting people’s achievements,” former Capital Gazette editor Leslie Hunt told the newspaper. Winters started at the paper as a freelance reporter in Maryland 20 years ago after a career in the fashion industry. She joined the Capital Gazette staff full time in 2013.

“Winters made the mundane marvelous. It was all important because it was her community,” The Washington Post reported. She highlighted her community with regular features, such as “Teen of the Week” and “Home of the Week.”

“She was in many ways the best part of the newspaper in that she cared so much about the city,” former Capital Gazette editor Steve Gunn told The Associated Press.

Robert Hiaasen

Robert Hiaasen’s death was first confirmed by his brother, author Carl Hiaasen.

Those who knew the 59-year-old columnist and assistant editor, remember him for his “wryly observant writing style and his generous mentoring of young journalists,” Capital Gazette reported.

A native of Florida, Hiaasen moved to Maryland in 1993. He has worked as a reporter for The Palm Beach Post in Florida and The Baltimore Sun. He became the assistant editor at the Capital Gazette in 2010. He was also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Maryland.

In February 2017 he wrote about his impressions when he first moved to Maryland and his love of Berger cookies.

His wife, Maria, told Capital Gazette that Hiaasen, who was 6 feet 5 inches, was a “giant not just in stature but in character,” and that he loved humor, journalism and helping young writers at the Gazette.

In a brief phone call with The Associated Press, Carl Hiaasen said his family “was devastated beyond words” by the senseless killing of his brother at The Capital Gazette.

Rebecca Smith

Smith, 34, was a sales assistant who was hired at the newspaper last November. Her boss Marty Padden told Capital Gazette that Smith was “kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed.”

In her Facebook page, her description says “Endo Warrior” — a survivor of endometriosis — “Dog mom. Softball fiance. Bonus Mom to the best kid ever.”

Kelli Peleska told  Capital Gazette that Smith was close to her fiance’s daughter and the child “idolized” Smith.

Gerald Fischman

“The consummate newspaper professional” is how former Capital Gazette features editor Kathy Flynn described Fischman, 61, who was the editorial page editor.

Steve Gunn, a former editor at the newspaper, remembered Fischman as “the master of AP style” who “made sure everything was just right.”

“He was famous for working long days and being very precise in his language and always making sure the editorial page reflected the heart of the newspaper,” Gunn said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Fischman had worked at the paper for 26 years.

John McNamara

John McNamara, 56, who went by “Mac,” will be remembered for his “extensive knowledge of regional sports,” the Baltimore Sun reported.

McNamara started at Capital Gazette as a news copy editor, left to pursue sports reporting at the Prince George’s Journal and then was hired back at the Capital Gazette, where he worked for nearly 24 years, the Capital Gazette reported.

He will also be remembered for his flexibility and versatility. Gerry Jackson, who hired him back, told the newspaper that McNamara was a “jack of all trades” who could write, edit and design pages.

David Elfin, who co-wrote a book with McNamara, told The Washington Post that McNamara was a pen and paper guy: “He didn’t wear a fedora, but maybe he should have.” He was an “old-school reporter.”

A gunman entered an Annapolis building and “targeted” the Capital Gazette office, killing the five employees of the news outlet Thursday afternoon, police said.

According to a law enforcement official, the suspected shooter has been identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, The Associated Press reported Thursday night.

The gunman entered the first floor of the building at 888 Bestgate Road with a shotgun, Acting Anne Arundel County Police Chief William Krampf said.

“He looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level,” Krampf said, but did not say whether the man was targeting specific people at the news outlet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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