In Capital Gazette shooting, police find themselves helping reporters they know well

Annapolis Police Sgt. Amy Miguez’s phone rang Thursday morning. It was another routine cop call: A reporter from The Capital newspaper, asking about the latest crime.

Miguez and reporter Phil Davis chatted — who, what, when, where — as they did a few times a week.

Hours later, he texted her back: Shooting in the newsroom.

“I thought he couldn’t be serious,” Miguez said.

She texted Davis back, and then called for officers. Some 300 would converge on the newsroom in the next hours — everyone from Anne Arundel County Police to postal inspectors to the FBI.

A man with a pump-action shotgun had blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom Thursday, killing five people and wounding two others. Police found themselves arriving at an unusual crime scene: The victims and survivors were familiar faces.

In some cases, they had spoken just hours ago.

Editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; editor and sports writer John McNamara, 56; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant, were killed.

Anne Arundel Police Chief Timothy Altomare said the department shares their grief.

“Most of the folks that work at The Capital Gazette work with us daily,” he said. ”It’s Annapolis. ... We all know those reporters.

“The young lady who just started is probably the only one I haven’t met in 25 years of police work in the county. You know: sports events, human interest pieces. Rob always wrote something funny. Yeah, it touches us.”

Altomare said the shooting will weigh heavily on the police officers.

“This is why cops don’t live to be 80, because we carry everyone’s sorrow,” he said.

None of his officers worked more closely with the newsroom than Lt. Ryan Frashure.

Growing up in Anne Arundel County, Frashure read the sports pages of the Maryland Gazette each Saturday. The staff published two papers, the daily Capital and the twice-weekly Gazette.

“You read it and then you stash it away and eat crabs on it,” he said.

Frashure, like so many Anne Arundel residents, delivered the Maryland Gazette as his first job.

“I remember sitting in the back of the truck and chucking newspapers out, and going around collecting money from people,” he said.

The Capital, with more affection than insult, is nicknamed the “crab wrapper.”

Frashure was working at a local event on heroin addiction awareness Thursday afternoon when his phone buzzed with a message: Shooting at 888 Bestgate Road.

He knew the address. He had visited the newsroom often.

Frashure thought the text meant another routine cop call from the newsroom.

He hurried to the scene. Television news crews from around the country had descended. Reporters from around the world peppered Frashure and Miguez with questions.

When the questions ended and cameras left, Frashure sent a text to the surviving reporters — not as a police officer, but as a friend.

He was there, Frashure promised, if they needed anything at all.

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

Complete coverage: Capital Gazette shooting »

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