The latest victims of America’s obsession with guns are five journalists and staff members at a local newspaper in Maryland.
Capital Gazette’s Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Robert Hiaasen, 59, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara, 56, were all killed in the mass shooting on Thursday.
Police have arrested and charged suspect Jarrod Ramos with five counts of first-degree murder. The alleged gunman has a long history with the newspaper and is reported to have unsuccessfully sued the newspaper group in 2012 for defamation before engaging in
As shots rang out in the newsroom and journalists took cover under their desks, Anthony Messenger, an intern at the paper, tweeted about the horrifying incident:
And Phil Davis, a crime reporter, added: “Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad.”
Showing an unfathomable amount of resilience, the surviving journalists at the paper continued to work through the aftermath of the attack - and even promised put out a paper the very next day.
“I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow,” tweeted reporter Chase Cook.
And, incredibly, they did exactly that…
Just hours since the attack, reactions have been pouring in.
Donald Trump tweeted: “Prior to departing Wisconsin, I was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.”
But this didn’t sit well with Gazette staff writer Selene San Felice who told CNN: “Thanks for your prayers, but I couldn’t give a fuck about them if there’s nothing else.”
And many people on social media have been pointing the finger of blame for this attack on the president - especially after his history of aggressively confronting the media.
The Wire creator David Simon said, quote-tweeting one of Trump’s many missives describing the media as the ‘enemy of the people’: “Blood today in an American newsroom. Aren’t you proud, you vile, fascist son of a bitch.”
Historian Simon Schama added: “Words are deeds. He calls the free press the “enemies of the people”. Then they get shot. He lies every day over and over.”
Replying to Melania Trump’s well-wishes, journalist David Corn said: “In addition to sending thoughts and prayers, perhaps you can ask your husband to stop demonizing reporters as ‘the enemy of the people.’”
Writer Mark Harris said: “The President of the United States tells tens of millions of people almost daily that a free press is the enemy of the American people. Please be more specific about what he’s praying for.”
Even the New York Times’ White House correspondent Maggie Haberman pointed out that “Trump is the only president in memory to call the press ‘the enemy of the people.’”
It’s indeed true that Donald Trump has been unusually hostile to the press in the United States - and has called them the ‘enemy of the people.’ But it’s also important to note that in this case, as previously mentioned, that this is likely not the only variable at work in this tragic incident. The shooting has been described as: “a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” by acting Anne Arundel County Police Chief William Krampf. In addition to this Jarrod Ramos allegedly harboured a long-standing grudge against the newspaper.
In 2012, Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit against one of the newspapers columnists Eric Hartley, Capital Gazette Communications, and the paper’s former editor and publisher Thomas Marquardt. Ramos filed the lawsuit in reaction to the newspapers reporting of a criminal harassment case against him. The defamation case was dismissed in 2015 and according to Baltimore Sun, Ramos later engaged in threatening online behaviour towards staff at Capital. All of which pre-dates Trump’s presidency.
Regardless of whether or not Trumps own actions had an influence on the attack, one thing is certain: America has a gun problem and it isn’t going anywhere soon. Lives are at stake and more than ever, this is the time for Trump to crackdown and bring in tougher restrictions and controls.