Community rallies for news staff

Following deadly shooting rampage Thursday that killed 5

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | June 29, 2018

The Capital Gazette published a blank editorial page Friday to memorialize those staff members who had been killed the previous day.

Area residents gathered in Annapolis for a public prayer vigil Friday night in memory of the five members of the staff of the Capital Gazette who were gunned down while working in their newsroom Thursday afternoon. The interfaith service was planned for a shopping mall parking lot across the street from the building where the shooting took place Thursday.

United Methodist Churches in the region planned another vigil to be held at Calvary UMC at 7 o'clock Sunday night.

According to local police, a Laurel, MD, man who had a long-standing grudge against the way the newspaper reported a stalking incident in which he was involved, shot his way into the newsroom with a pump-action shotgun. On Friday, the alleged shooter was charged with five counts of first degree murder.

Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams said the shooter had planned the incident and had blocked the only exit from the offices so that his victims could not escape before he entered the building.

Police said the alleged shooter had written numerous threats on a Website and social media for years. A defamation suit he filed against the newspaper, was dismissed by the State Supreme Court in 2016.

Despite the tragedy, the newspaper published a Friday morning edition, leaving the editorial page blank in recognition of those who lost their lives the previous day.

In response to the shooting, area faith leaders called for prayer and support for the families of the victims and survivors of the rampage. United Methodist Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling wrote of the tragic events, "While these occurrences continue to happen with greater frequency, we cannot grow weary in well doing, and we cannot become numb to these acts of heinous violence. We must continue to stand for, work toward, model, and pour ourselves out in the service of a more loving and peaceful society."

According to its Facebook page, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance reached out the Baltimore Presbytery to offer assistance.

This is the second major incident of public violence in Maryland in less than six months. Two students were killed in Great Mills High School in March.

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