Members of Congress bowed their heads and stood in silence for several seconds Wednesday to honor the five people fatally shot almost two weeks ago in the Capital Gazette newspaper’s Annapolis office.
Joined by other members of Maryland’s congressional delegation, Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) spoke briefly before the moment of silence about the victims: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
“Those who were senselessly gunned down were members of our valued local press corps,” said Brown, whose district is mostly centered in Prince George’s County but includes a piece of Anne Arundel County where the newspaper’s office is located.
“In America, we cherish and value our free and independent press,” Brown said. “We should not tolerate threats and hatred directed at the media and should support those who bring us the news every day.”
Brown, who said he got to know Fischman and Hiassen in editorial board meetings, described Annapolis as a “tightknit community” and said those “lost in this horrific attack were friends, neighbors and extended family members.”
Fischman, 61, was an award-winning writer and editor who worked at the Capital Gazette for 26 years and who Brown dubbed “the consummate newspaperman.”
Hiaasen, 59, a veteran columnist, editor and journalism teacher, was “a giant in stature and in character,” Brown said.
He described McNamara, 56, as a reporter “who loved covering sports as much as playing them.” Smith, 34, a sales assistant with the Capital, “was quiet but had a big heart,” he said.
He called Winters, 65, a reporter who rushed at the gunman to stop him, “an American hero.”
Jarrod Ramos, a man with a long-running vendetta against the paper, has been charged with five counts of murder for the killings and is being held without bond.
Newsrooms across the world held a moment of silence on July 5, exactly a week after the shooting, to honor the victims.
Journalists across the country — from outlets including the New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and the Boston Globe — have helped the newspaper continue daily publication despite the loss of key members of its staff.