ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — June 28 marks exactly one year since the deadly shooting at The Capital Gazette newsroom.
The Capital Gazette released a special edition Friday morning describing how the survivors have coped with the trauma and used each other to heal and try to move forward.
On June 28, 2018, a gunman entered the newsroom and killed five employees: editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, editor/reporter John McNamara, sales assistant Rebecca Smith and community correspondent Wendi Winters.
“It was the most brutal form of attempted censorship,” said Tribune Publishing Chairman David Dreier.
The remaining staff pushed through and continued to put out a paper the next day, reporting on the very tragedy that took their co-workers lives. They put out a paper every day since, in an impressive show of resolve and responsibility to not let the shooting stop them from doing their jobs.
The paper received a special Pulitzer Prize citation and $100,000 for its coverage of the attack, and the staff was named along with other journalists as Time magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year.
The community gathered along the waterfront at Acton Cove Park — not far from the Maryland State House — to dedicate a memorial garden to the five victims: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
“I feel like I’m waking up from a nightmare except the nightmare is still here, and it’s really real,” Andrea Chamblee, McNamara’s widow, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “I just want to make sure no other family has to join this terrible club of gun violence victims again. The club needs to have its membership closed.”
Photographer Paul Gillespie, who survived the attack, told Hellgren he’s still scarred by the trauma. “This year has had some highs but many more lows,” he said. “Remember the price my colleagues paid for reporting the truth.”
The suspect in the attack, Jarrod Ramos, has yet to stand trial. He had a long-standing grudge against the newspaper for articles written about him, and prosecutors said he barricaded exits before entering the newsroom with a gun and shooting.
The paper published a list of all mass shooting victims starting the day of the Capital Gazette massacre in its Opinion section for the anniversary, writing “None of us can truly be free until we, together, stop this madness.”
The garden dedication included Representative John Sarbanes and Senator Chris Van Hollen. Both lawmakers praised the paper for its service to the community—and for the determination to keep going and “putting out the damn paper” even the day after the murders.
Editor Rick Hutzell gave an emotional tribute to his co-workers who lost their lives on June 28, 2018. “I am far richer for having known them, and I am far poorer for having lost them,” Hutzell said.
General Assembly leaders along with Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed this “Freedom of the Press Day” to honor those five lives lost at the Capital Gazette and recognize the importance of journalists in our democracy.
Governor Hogan proclaimed June 28 “Freedom of the Press Day” as a way to “memorialize the lives lost on June 28, 2018, at the Capital Gazette offices and to honor and protect all journalists serving a vital role in the world’s democratic process to inform residents of the happenings of their governments.”
The emotional day also continued into the night with the City of Annapolis holding a special remembrance concert at Maryland Hall.
Hundreds gathered for the concert where family, friends and colleagues recalled their favorite memories of the victims.
“Plaques, folded flags and certificates can fill up spaces on our walls, but they cannot fill the bullet holes in our lives,” Winter’s daughter said.
The night ended with candlelight illumination, showing even though times go on, these faces and their work, will never be forgotten.