‘They’re neighbors:’ Maryland leaders react to Capital Gazette shooting verdict

After three years, the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, community finally had a verdict on the Capital Gazette shooting, and local leaders are sharing their reactions and remembering the five people who were killed.

Five staffers who worked at the newspaper in Annapolis were killed in 2018, after a man with a long-standing grudge against the publication burst into the newsroom with a gun. On Thursday, a jury found him criminally responsible, all but ensuring that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

State Sen. Sarah Elfreth remembered knocking on journalist Wendi Winters’ door during her first campaign.

“They’re more than just journalists, they’re neighbors,” Elfreth said.

Elfreth said the newspaper staff, in addition to writing about the State House and the goings-on at the state Capitol, wrote about Little League and high school games.

“These were people who knew our lives and, and gave those lives a voice for a lot of years,” Elfreth said.

The shooting shook the community, and Elfreth brought up keeping guns out of the hands of people who intend to commit violence.

“Looking at his record and looking at the threats and looking at, you know, his history of … verbal violence. This was somewhat predictable, and we didn’t have the right laws on the books … Now we have the Red flag law,” Elfreth said.

Elfreth hopes the verdict brings some relief to the tight-knit community that have all been touched by what happened.

The first art exhibit at the new Michael E. Busch Annapolis Library is called “Journalists Matter: Faces of the Capital Gazette.” It features the work of photojournalist Paul Gillespie and runs through July 30.

Anne Arundel County Public Library spokeswoman Christine Feldmann said patrons who come in and see the images tear up.

“They sigh and they put their hands over their hearts. They are emotionally touched by these striking images,” Feldmann said.

Feldmann said the Capital Gazette is the “hometown voice … They’re in our neighborhoods, you know. They’re our friends and neighbors. They’re our colleagues. This is not an organization that had people far removed from their subjects. These people were living in our community, and working in our community. So it’s very personal to us here in Annapolis.”

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, who represents Anne Arundel County, said the verdict “brings us closer to a resolution for the victim’s families, their colleagues and our community.”

More Capital Gazette shooting news

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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