Four journalists and a sales assistant were killed Thursday in a shooting at a Maryland newspaper. Authorities said the gunman entered the Capital Gazette in Annapolis and “looked for his victims.” The employees killed were Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, police said.
Gerald Fischman, the editorial page editor at the Capital Gazette, was an “old-fashioned journalist,” a former editor of the paper said.
Steve Gunn remembered Fischman as “the master of AP style” who “made sure everything was just right.”
“He was famous for working long days and being very precise in his language and always making sure the editorial page reflected the heart of the newspaper,” Gunn said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Fischman had worked at the paper 26 years.
Journalist Rob Hiaasen’s family is “devastated” by his death, said his brother, author Carl Hiaasen.
Carl Hiaasen, a prolific novelist and a longtime columnist for the Miami Herald, confirmed that his brother, also a columnist and an editor, was one of the Annapolis victims.
In a brief phone call with The Associated Press, Carl Hiaasen said his family “was devastated beyond words” by the senseless killing of his brother at The Capital Gazette.
“He was the most remarkable person. So gifted and talented and dedicated to journalism,” he said, his voice choked with emotion.
Saying he was too wracked with grief to speak further, Hiaasen referred an AP reporter to something he had just posted to his Facebook page, describing Rob as one of the most “gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.”
Gunn, the former Capital Gazette editor, said Rob Hiaasen was a “gifted editor who had an aura of an artist around him who made people want to make journalism a beautiful craft.”
John McNamara was a longtime staff writer at the paper.
Gunn said McNamara was workmanlike — “classic come to work and tell me what I need to do.”
McNamara, had worked at the Capital Gazette in various capacities for more than 20 years.
“At a small paper like that, you have to be versatile,” former Capital Gazette sports editor Gerry Jackson told the newspaper. “He could write. He could edit. He could design pages. He was just a jack of all trades and a fantastic person.”
The 56-year-old loved covering sports and his interest in local history inspired him to write two books about University of Maryland’s football and basketball history.
He was working on another book about baseball players raised in the Washington area, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Prior to joining the Capital Gazette, McNamara had worked at The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown and the Prince George’s Journal, according to his Linkedin profile.
McNamara graduated from the University of Maryland in 1983.
Rebecca Smith was a sales assistant at the Capital Gazette.
Smith, 34, had joined the newspaper last year as a sales assistant.
“She was a very thoughtful person,” Marty Padden, the newspaper’s advertising director told the Baltimore Sun. “She was kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed. She seemed to really enjoy to be working in the media business.”
In her Facebook profile, Smith described herself as a survivor of endometriosis and a “Dog Mom. Softball Fiance. Bonus Mom to the best kid ever.”
Prior to joining the Capital Gazette, Smith worked in marketing for a health care organization, the newspaper reported.
Special publications editor Wendi Winters was “the heart of the newspaper,” Gunn said.
Winters was passionate about serving the community and a role model for younger journalist, he recalled.
“She was in many ways the best part of the newspaper in that she cared so much about the city,” he said.
Winters was an editor and community reporter for the Capital Gazette, writing several weekly columns.
The 65-year-old moved to Maryland after working for two public relation agencies in New York City and “owning her own boutique agency in the Big Apple,” her staff bio said.
Her skills as a journalist came from her experience in “retailing, wholesaling, art design, apparel and accessories design, management, public relations, modeling, styling, casting, event planning, motherhood – instead of 4-years at a j-school,” she wrote in her Linkedin profile.
Winters had a fashion design degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and organized campaigns and special events for companies like JC Penney’s, Sears Roebuck & Company and Gimbels, according to her profile.
She was an active volunteer with Girl Scouts and Red Cross and had founded an annual event in Annapolis called P.R. Bazaar, where local journalists and public relations professionals meet to learn from each other.
“My mother was a wonderful woman and a fantastic reporter,” her daughter Winters Geimer told the Baltimore Sun. “Her life was a gift to everyone who knew her and the world will not be the same without her. We are grieving and trying to make sure all of us can be together to celebrate the life of our mother.”