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Newspaper staff publish edition in defiance after shooting attack

| Updated: June 30, 2018 16:29:20

Newspaper staff publish edition in defiance after shooting attack

Staff at the Capital Gazette have published a Friday edition, after a gunman killed five people and injured more at the local paper's office.

Chase Cook, a reporter at the Annapolis publication, had tweeted: "We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow."

His post came just hours after the attacker, armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades, shot through a glass door into the newsroom.

Police called the shooting a "targeted attack".

The paper has tweeted the front page of their Friday paper, as well as obituaries for their colleagues.

US media have named a suspect held by police as Jarrod Ramos, who is reported to have unsuccessfully sued the newspaper group in 2012 for defamation. The Anne Arundel Police Department have not, however, yet named the suspect.

A Capital Gazette reporter tweeted that Mr Ramos had been charged with "five counts of first-degree murder", and would have a bail review on Saturday.

First reports of the shooting came at 14.40 local time (19.40 BST).

Journalists inside the building posted on social media as the gunman fired through the glass door of the office with a shotgun and shot at staff inside.

An intern at the paper, Anthony Messenger, tweeted as the attacker opened fire.

Another staff member at the Capital Gazette, Selene San Felice, told CNN that her first reaction to the shooting was to lie down under her desk, adding that she attempted to exit through a rear door but it was locked.

Crime reporter Phil Davis was also in the building and told The Baltimore Sun - part of the same media group as the Gazette - that he and his colleagues hid under their desks.

"I don't know why he stopped [shooting]," he told the paper.

He described the scene as "like a war zone" and tweeted about his experiences as he waited to be interviewed by police.

County executive Steve Schuh told CNN that the suspect was hiding under a desk in the building when police officers arrived "within 60 seconds" of receiving news of the incident. He said there was "no exchange of fire".

"This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette," said William Krampf, deputy chief of Anne Arundel County Police. He added that the gunman "entered the building with a shotgun and looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level".

Speaking to reporters, Mr Krampf said an item "we believed to be an explosive device" had been found at the premises and destroyed. He said it turned out to be a smoke bomb.

Police said they safely evacuated 170 people from the building, which housed 30 other businesses.

Authorities have named the victims of the shooting:

  • Wendi Winters, 65, editor and community reporter
  • Rebecca Smith, 34, sales assistant
  • Robert Hiaasen, 59, assistant editor and columnist
  • Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial writer
  • John McNamara, 56, reporter and editor

The Committee to Protect Journalists tweeted that before the Maryland shooting, seven journalists had been killed in the US in relation to their work since 1992.

Most recently, TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed in 2015 during an interview in Moneta, Virginia.

Who is the suspect?

The Gazette reportedly wrote an article in 2011 about a woman who claimed Jarrod Ramos was stalking her, and he failed in his attempts to sue the paper for defamation the following year.

Police said a white male suspect in his late 30s was taken into custody at the scene of the shooting and was being questioned. They have not ascribed any motive.

Federal agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were involved in the response to the attack.

Maryland governor Larry Hogan said on Twitter he was "absolutely devastated" and was in contact with authorities.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the attack. He tweeted that his "thoughts and prayers" were with the victims and their families.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later condemned the attack on "innocent journalists doing their job".

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) said it had deployed counterterrorism teams to media organisations in and around New York City as a precaution.

'Not a war zone'

Mayor of Annapolis Gavin Buckley told the Guardian he could not understand how the paper "could make someone that hostile".

"If this is an attack on journalism it is a sad state of affairs," he said.

"Because journalists, you don't get paid enough to put your life on the line, we're not in some war zone, we're not in some third-world country with a dictator," he said, BBC reported.

Democratic senator Chris Van Hollen responded to a Gazette reporter on Twitter, saying "journalists shouldn't have to fend off bullets in the newsroom".

Writer and alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos has faced criticism online for writing that he "can't wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down".

Mr Yiannopoulos has defended himself on Facebook, claiming the message was "a troll".

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