- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hundreds of Marylanders marched through the streets of Annapolis Friday evening in tribute to the journalists gunned down at their hometown paper on Thursday.

“We’re not going to forget them, and we don’t want people to forget them,” The Capital’s crime reporter Phil Davis told the crowd of local residents gathered around him. Capital editor Rick Hutzell ran up to the podium and put an arm around Mr. Davis as he began reading the names of the five colleagues they watched die one day earlier.

Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley organized the Friday vigil, and praised the journalists and first responders for their response to the tragedy, telling the crowd, “This is who we are.”

Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, of Laurel, Maryland, was arraigned in court on Friday, facing five counts of first-degree murder after he barred the back doors of the Capital-Gazette offices Thursday afternoon, threw smoke grenades in the building, and leveled his shotgun at the 20-person newsroom.

Five journalists were killed: Wendi Winters, special publications editor, Rob Hiaasen, editor and Sunday columnist; John McNamara, writer; Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; and Rebecca Smith, sales assistant.

Two additional Capital employees, Janel Cooley and Rachael Pacella, were also wounded in the rampage and were released by Saturday.

Residents from Annapolis and nearby towns poured into the city Friday evening with signs reading “#AnnapolisStrong” and “Maryland For Gun Control” and held candles as they marched down Main Street. The somber procession was led by 16-year-old bagpiper Mackenzie Boughey playing “Amazing Grace”, which echoed off the brick buildings in the historic downtown district as the crowd grew silent.

Retired Navy captain Emil Petruncio, 55, and his wife Angela Petruncio, 65, held candles as they marched and remembered their friend Wendi Winters, who Mr. Petruncio said, “knitted the community together with her stories.”

He said he came to the event because, “it’s better to share grief with friends.”

Clips of Ms. Winter’s articles were pasted around the city, with signs taped over them reading, “Wendy’s [sic] Work Wasn’t War.” Some in the crowd held up the articles of the reporters they knew and called friends.

Lesly Cohen, 46, wife of former Annapolis mayor Joshua Cohen held a candle with her daughter Tessa Cohen, 9, as they watched the speeches. Ms. Cohen told The Washington Times she was “devastated” by the “heart wrenching” attack, and hoped it would inspire stricter gun laws.

Despite sweltering summer heat and humidity, marchers clutched hands and hugged tightly as they made their way towards the town’s iconic City Dock. Emotions were high, and faces were pale in the crowd — some striken, some angry.

“I am angry that we are here doing this in our town, that this happened five minutes from my house,” said Eve Hurwitz, Annapolis resident and director of the Maryland chapter of the policy advocacy group March On. “But what we do with our anger and our fear is what defines. And the answer is always love.”

By some reckonings, the Capital shooting is considered the 154th U.S. mass shooting so far this year.

Mr. Ramos is now being held without bail, according to Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams, and is not cooperating with authorities who resorted to facial-recognition software to establish his identification from state records. 

Washington Times sports reporter Adam Zielonka worked as a sportswriter for the Capital before joining The Washington Times earlier this year, and attended the vigil to honor McNamara and all his former colleagues.

“When I can visualize what glass door he shot through and who he would have encountered first, and where Phil, and John, and Rob, and Wendi would have each been — that’s something that’s never going to leave me,” Mr. Zielonka told The Times on Saturday. “I’m not over it today, I won’t be over it tomorrow.”

In honor of the slain, Annapolis residents are wrapping black mourning bands around their newspaper delivery boxes to mourn the community’s loss

Across the state, Maryland flags are lowered to half staff on the orders of Gov. Larry Hogan. In Baltimore, the Orioles held a moment of silence before the team’s Friday home game.

Nationwide, political cartoonists drew tributes to the victims, and in The District, 26-year-old Bloomberg journalist Madi Alexander created a GoFundMe to collect $10,000 for victims’ medical care, funeral costs, and newsroom repairs. By Saturday morning people had donated $169,850 to the fund.

But to many at Friday night’s vigil, the greatest homage was from the Capital staff themselves.

“The fact that they put out a newspaper the next day is the greatest tribute to their colleagues could have made to them,” said Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch to cheers from the crowd.

“They were like our family,” said one marcher on Friday as an older woman cried on her shoulder, sobbing, “It’s too close, it’s too close.”

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