U.S. Senate unanimously passes resolution honoring Capital Gazette victims

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday honoring the five victims of the deadly attack at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

From the Senate floor, Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen spoke of the victims and the Capital Gazette’s impact on its readers.

Van Hollen said the Capital Gazette is “your quintessential, small-town newspaper.” He said it and other local papers around the country “represent the lifeblood of our communities.”

All 100 senators signed on to the resolution as co-sponsors. Copies of the resolution will be sent to the families of the victims as well as Rick Hutzell, the editor of the paper.

Five employees were killed in the June 28 attack: editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59; sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34; sports writer and editor John McNamara, 56; and reporter Wendi Winters, 65.

A 38-year-old Laurel man, Jarrod W. Ramos, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in their deaths.

The Senate resolution cites the history of the Capital Gazette — which dates back to 1727 — as one of the oldest newspapers in the United States. It also honors the institution of journalism as a cornerstone of American democracy.

The resolution states that “journalism is a cornerstone of the democratic society of the United States” and that local news outlets including the Capital Gazette “are focused on delivering truthful and thorough reporting, local investigation, and community advocacy” and “are unfettered by individuals or groups who seek to damage journalistic integrity by demonizing the media, spreading disinformation, and harassing and intimidating dedicated journalists.”

The resolution also honors the first responders who raced to the scene. The fact that Anne Arundel County police officers were near the office at the time of the shooting “most definitely saved lives,” Cardin said.

He also said “it is clear” that Winters saved lives by charging at the gunman.

Both lawmakers praised the surviving staff for reporting on their own tragedy and putting out a newspaper the following day.

“This was known as grace under pressure,” Cardin said.

The Democratic senators also used the introduction of the resolution to call for increased gun control, asking their colleagues to pass legislation that would further monitor and restrict firearms purchases.

The Senate resolution comes a day after the U.S. Congress observed a moment of silence for the victims.

U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown led the remembrance with other members of the Maryland House delegation.

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