By Ava-joye Burnett


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ/AP) — Hundreds of people gathered in Maryland’s capital for a candlelight march in memory of five slain newspaper employees.

The mood was somber as Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis read aloud the names of his five slain co-workers before those gathered began marching through downtown Annapolis.

RELATED: Slain Capital Gazette Employees Were Dedicated To Work, Community

Some in the crowd carried signs and banners that said “#AnnapolisStrong” and that was evident at numerous vigils Friday night.

From a church to the mall, droves of friends, families and strangers gathered, including Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan. Gov. Larry Hoagn tweeted out personal memories of one of the victims he got to know over the years.

Family members are now gone forever, and children are left without a parent.

“Far too soon to lose my mother, and it’s just awful. She was a fantastic woman, a great mother and an awesome reporter. She was doing her job and she was doing what she loves to do,” said Wendi Winters’ daughter, Winters Geimer.

Another vigil has held at outside the Maryland State House. Survivors clutched on to each other in the crowd.

“I was trying to escape, I sort of slipped over my own feet. I hit my face very hard against a door frame, and the door ended up being barricaded anyway,” reporter Rachael Pacella said.

Phil Davis, a reporter who hid under his desk while the gunman reloaded, praised colleagues who worked through the night and published Friday’s paper hours later.

“I don’t have a lot of words for how amazing what they did was. They had to, I’m sure they had to fight through their own tears,” Davis said.

It was a mostly silent walk down Main Street that ended at city dock — an act of solidarity for a grieving community.

RELATED: How You Can Help Capital Gazette Shooting Victims And Their Families

Melissa Wilson and her husband, Benjamin Wilson, brought their children to the vigil. Melissa Wilson’s employer has offices in the same building as the newspaper and has co-workers who were there when the gunman opened fire. She said many Annapolis residents have a “one degree of separation” connection with at least one of the five paper employees who were fatally shot Thursday.

“It’s not something you can ignore when it’s in your backyard,” she said.

The victims have been identified as editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, assistant editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, writer John McNamara, sales assistant Rebecca Smith and special publications editor Wendi Winters.

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, the Eucharist at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in downtown will offer “a special time of prayer and remembrance for the victims of the Annapolis Capital shooting during its service.” The church says all are welcome to attend.

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Ava-joye Burnett

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