Silence in newsrooms as 5 slain at Maryland paper remembered

The Capital Gazette staff paused somberly at 2:33 p.m. as editor Rick Hutzell rang a bell for each person who died at the Annapolis paper exactly seven days earlier, The Baltimore Sun reported .

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ANNAPOLIS |  Newsrooms across the country paused Thursday to observe a moment of silence for five employees of a Maryland newspaper who were killed a week ago in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

The Capital Gazette staff paused somberly at 2:33 p.m. as editor Rick Hutzell rang a bell for each person who died at the Annapolis paper exactly seven days earlier, The Baltimore Sun reported .

The staff traditionally convenes meetings by clanging a bell, and Hutzell said the act has taken on a new meaning.

“Every time we ring that bell, we’re going to think about our friends,” he said.

About a dozen people held hands and prayed next to a memorial near the building where the shootings happened. Cheryl Starr and her son, Sam, came to pay their respects.

“We live right next door, so it just hit us hard, because it’s so close to home — way too close to home — and it’s tragic. Everyone in the community knew these people, and it just shouldn’t happen like that,” she said.

The American Society of News Editors and The Associated Press Media Editors asked newsrooms around the globe to join in a remembrance of the dead, and many did.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the newsroom at the Courier Journal fell silent in memory of the victims after executive editor Joel Christopher read the names of the dead.

“They paid a high price for doing what we do,” he said.

In the newsroom of The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, the vigil was accompanied by the names of the five victims being read aloud, according to reporter Jane Harper.

“It was incredibly quiet,” said Harper, 55, who worked at Annapolis paper from 1987 to 1991. “Not a cellphone rang. Not a desk phone. Not a single sound.”

About 100 people gathered in the headquarters of The Associated Press in New York to observe a moment of silence, circling around a desk where coverage of national and international stories is planned.

The attack on the Capital Gazette newsroom was “frightening and distressing in so many ways,” AP executive editor Sally Buzbee said.

Jimmie Gates, a reporter who participated in a moment of silence at the Clarion Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, said being a journalist is like being in a small fraternity or sorority, and an injury to any one member hurts all.

“It was just like a family member being taken away,” Gates said.

The remembrance also touched journalism schools. No classes were in session at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, but more than a dozen faculty members and students bowed their heads in memory of the slain newspaper workers.

One of the victims, assistant managing editor Rob Hiaasen, was an adjunct lecturer who taught his first class at the school in the spring semester. Two other victims, editorial page editor Gerald Fischman and John McNamara, a writer and copy editor, earned their bachelor’s degrees from the university more than three decades ago.

Special publications editor Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith, a recently hired sales assistant, also were killed. Deborah Nelson, an associate professor at Maryland, said the killings will be on the minds of people getting into journalism.

“Students will be traumatized by the loss and they’ll also be wondering about the issue of safety, which is something we haven’t had to deal with much in the U.S.,” she said.

Before the remembrance in Annapolis, Capital Gazette photographer Paul W. Gillespie tweeted an image from the staff’s temporary newsroom showing a banner bearing the name of the paper. The banner, which journalists marched with in the state capital’s Fourth of July parade, made the temporary quarters “feel a bit more like home,” he wrote.

Jarrod Ramos, a 38-year-old Maryland man with a longtime grudge against the newspaper, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the shooting. He is being held without bail.

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Associated Press reporters Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Kentucky; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; David Bauder in New York; Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia; and Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland contributed to this report.