Capital Gazette mourns slain staff, pays heartfelt tributes

Capital Gazette mourns slain staff, pays heartfelt tributes

(Photo credit: Theresa C. Sanchez)

WASHINGTON — The Capital Gazette put out a paper Friday, one that left the opinion page nearly blank in honor of the five slain members of the Annapolis, Maryland outlet’s team along with a series of touching tributes to those lost.

“Today we are speechless,” the sparse text in the opinion section reads. “This page is intentionally left blank today to commemorate victims of Thursday’s shootings at our office.”

It then goes on to list those killed: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiassen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

“Tomorrow this page will return to its steady purpose of offering our readers informed opinion about the world around them, that they might be better citizens,” it adds.

Friday’s edition included obituaries for each victim.

(Photo credit: Theresa C. Sanchez)

Editor Rob Hiaasen, 59, was praised for his “wryly observant writing style and his generous mentoring of young journalists.” Editorial writer Gerald Fischman, 61, was remembered as “the guardian against libel, the arbiter of taste and a peculiar and endearing figure in a newsroom full of characters.” He had worked at the paper for 26 years.

John McNamara, 56, a sports reporter, was honored by his former editor, Gerry Jackson, as a reporter who could simply do it all.

“He could write. He could edit. He could design pages. He was just a jack of all trades and a fantastic person,” Jackson told the Gazette.

Local reporter Wendi Winters was lauded as a resource to the community who excelled at story telling and also viewed herself as a “proud Navy mom,” a church youth adviser, a Red Cross volunteer and a Girl Scout leader who could ‘make a mean s’more.’ ”

Sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34, was reportedly a recent hire, but was nevertheless seen as an asset to the paper and “a very kind person.”

“She was very likable, and she had a good sense of humor,” advertising director Marty Padden said.

On Thursday, a gunman opened fire on the first-floor office of the newspaper, killing five staffers before being taken into custody.

The suspected shooter was identified as Jarrod Ramos, a 38-year-old Laurel, Maryland man who appeared to foster a long-running, oftentimes unhinged grudge against the Capital Gazette on social media.

Ramos was charged with five counts of first-degree murder Friday morning.

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