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Newspaper shooting leaves enduring mark on Maryland capital

Newspaper shooting leaves enduring mark on Maryland capital

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Three years after a mass shooting left five dead at a Maryland newspaper, relief that the gunman has been found criminally responsible is tempered by lingering sorrow among residents of the state’s picturesque capital who vividly recall the attack that shattered their community.The 2018 rampage at the Capital Gazette was unique in its horror — one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in American history. Yet in numerous other ways, it was painfully similar to other mass shootings in communities across the U.S. And many Annapolis residents have discovered that the searing effects leave a wound that endures.“I think it hurt a lot of people here, not just in our newsroom. Their local paper was attacked, and we were such a part of this community that it felt like an attack on them,” said Paul Gillespie, the Capital Gazette’s photographer who managed to escape the newsroom during the bloodbath and struggles with posttraumatic stress symptoms.Thursday’s verdict means that shooter Jarrod Ramos will be sentenced to prison, not a maximum-security mental health facility. Prosecutors are seeking five life sentences without the possibility of parole for the killer with a grudge against the local paper.Because Annapolis is an extraordinarily tight-knit community, nearly everyone — young and old — was somehow affected by the rampage that was easily the most shocking event to befall the capital of roughly 40,000 people in recent memory.Behind the counter of a book and antique shop on the cobblestone main street, Priscilla Witt described the shooting as a transformative experience for Annapolis.“Unfortunately, there’s just no getting that innocence back,” Witt said after the jury’s verdict. “The attack really had a huge effect here because Annapolis is a small town, really. I think that’s why it hurt so badly. There was a sense that things won’t ever be the same.”Research has found that violent tragedies affect the entire community where it occurs as residents grapple with losing the that-can’t-happen-here notion and can cause negative spillover effects including depression and increased smoking.Aparna Soni, an assistant professor in the public administration and policy department at Washington’s American University, co-authored recent research looking at how mass shootings — the murder of four or more people — affect community well-being. She said shootings like the one in Annapolis “pose significant societal costs and their impacts extend beyond those directly exposed to the shooting.”“It’s important to take these spillover costs into account as we think about the costs and benefits of investing in policies to reduce mass shootings,” Soni said in an email.Some residents said the 2018 attack sadly proved that the quaint capital boasting more original standing colonial buildings than any other city in the nation was just as vulnerable to homicidal rage as anywhere else in the U.S.“It showed us that what’s happened with these insane shootings in spots all over the country can also happen here,” said Roseann Mahanes, as she visited a new memorial in Annapolis to the five staffers — including her dear friend, special publications editor Wendi Winters — who were murdered at the Capital Gazette.After the 2018 shooting, Annapolis residents held fundraisers and gave employees a roughly 2-mile (3-kilometer) rolling standing ovation when they marched in the July Fourth parade just days after the attack.That generosity has never flagged, former and current Capital Gazette staffers say. During the trial, which started on June 29, a day after the attack’s three-year anniversary, Annapolis businesses provided free lunches and breakfasts, massages to relieve stress, and a private lounge for witnesses and their loved ones to console one another and decompress.Living through the horror of the mass shooting ended up reinforcing the town’s closely interwoven ties.“This is going to be something we take with us for the rest of our lives, but it’s also a thing that unites us,” said Danielle Ohl, a former Capital Gazette reporter who was on vacation when she first saw messages pouring in that something horrible was going on in her newsroom. “We didn’t let this horrific attack keep us from doing what we love to do and being a community that advocates for itself and fiercely protects its own.”The Capital Gazette may have survived the shooting, but its future prospects are hazy — despite winning a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage of the attack and insistence on putting out the next day’s paper.Its physical newsroom was shuttered recently, sending the remaining tiny cadre of staff to work remotely, after being acquired by New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital. The Alden deal is the latest major acquisition of a newspaper company by an investment firm dedicated to maximizing profits in distressed industries.“We lost journalists on that day in 2018 and now we think we might be losing our local paper as well,” Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said in a phone interview. “But we’re going to do everything we can to keep the local paper. We need it.”

2 Baltimore officers on US task force shot, suspect killed

2 Baltimore officers on US task force shot, suspect killed

WOODLAWN, Md. — Two Baltimore city police detectives were shot and a homicide suspect was killed as a U.S. Marshals’ task force attempted to serve a warrant outside a shopping mall Tuesday morning, authorities said.Members of the warrant apprehension task force were looking for a vehicle and suspect wanted in a June 19 homicide in Baltimore and spotted them in the parking lot of Security Square Mall in suburban Woodlawn, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a news conference.When officers tried to approach the vehicle, the suspect got out and fired multiple rounds, striking two detectives, he said. Officers returned fire, striking the suspect, a 32-year-old man they had been pursuing, Harrison said. The man, identified as Justin Powell of Baltimore, was taken to a hospital, where he died. Harrison said Powell was wanted on a homicide and handgun warrant.The wounded detectives were taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s shock trauma unit, where the physician-in-chief, Thomas Scalea, said “both were seriously ill when they arrived.”“We were able to get them stabilized,” he said. “Both will require some therapy. … We expect both of them to survive.”Mayor Brandon Scott said he’s thankful the officers were “alert and upbeat” and wished them a speedy recovery. Building a safer city requires holding violent offenders accountable and that’s what the officers were doing Tuesday, he said.“The WATF will continue to aggressively track down those who commit violence on our streets and they will continue to send a clear message as they do each and every day, that we will not allow folks to think they’re going to get away with harming people on the streets of Baltimore,” Scott said.It was not immediately clear if the detectives wore body cameras at the time of the shooting.The wounded officers are city detectives who are deputized U.S. marshals, part of Baltimore’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force, which handles high-risk warrants. Members of the task force can make arrests outside their police agency’s immediate jurisdiction, allowing them to track fugitives in the region.Tracking homicide suspects and serving arrest warrants is one of the most dangerous things law enforcement officers can do, Harrison said.“What we saw today was exactly what officers go through; these are the most dangerous situations imaginable, but they did their jobs with bravery, with courage and with professionalism,” Harrison added.A section of the Baltimore County mall parking lot was cordoned off with crime tape as officers collected evidence surrounding a pickup truck, which had bullet holes in the driver’s side window and windshield. Some two dozen police officers, paramedics and other officials gathered at an entrance to the mall complex, and a police helicopter hovered above the area.One police official could be seen carrying pieces of cardboard and other items and storing them in a police vehicle. Numerous homicide detectives gathered outside of a mall entrance.The rest of the sprawling shopping mall complex was largely open to the public late Tuesday morning. Students at a trade school at the rear of the mall complex were working with their instructors, paying scant attention to the large police presence on the other side of the plaza.In Baltimore, Harrison said the criminal investigation is being handled by police in Baltimore County, a collection of suburban communities that ring the mid-Atlantic city and where Tuesday’s shooting took place. The city’s special investigations response team will also probe the shooting, he said.An official who monitors Baltimore’s court-enforceable agreement to reform its police department stood alongside Harrison and the mayor at Tuesday’s news conference. The monitor will report details of the shooting to a U.S. judge who oversees Baltimore’s federal consent decree, which began in January 2017 after the U.S. Justice Department discovered longstanding patterns of excessive force, unlawful arrests and discriminatory police practices.In February, a deputy U.S. Marshal was shot and wounded, and a suspect was killed, during a shootout as law enforcement officials tried to arrest the man, wanted for attempted murder and robbery, in Baltimore.———Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Michael Kunzelman in College Park and Mike Balsamo in Washington, D.C. contributed to this story.