Congress paused for a moment of silence this afternoon to honor the victims of the June 28 shooting at the Capital Gazette’s Annapolis newsroom.
U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown led the remembrance with other members of the Maryland House delegation.
“Today we honor the enduring courage of the of The Capital Gazette staff,” Brown said. “Their dedication and service to their readers, and their commitment to a vibrant free press, are a tribute to their profession and professionalism, and to the resilience of the Annapolis community.”
Five employees were killed in the 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 Ramos, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in their deaths.
Before the moment of silence, Brown shared remarks on the 291-year history of the “cherished community newspaper” and its local news reporting in Maryland’s capital.
“It was one of the first newspapers to publish the Declaration of Independence — although it appeared on Page 2, because local news always took precedence,” the congressman said on the House floor.
Brown, a Prince George’s County Democrat, said in an interview that the mass shooting was an attack “not only on individuals, but on a cherished institution” — the freedom of the press.
“It is customary in the House that when you have a tragic event happening in the life of our nation, particularly on a large scale, that we take time to remember the people who were lost,” Brown said.
Capital Gazette editor Rick Hutzell called the congressional gesture “an incredible honor.” He and other staff members were invited but could not attend.
“We’d like to thank Congressman Brown and his colleagues for taking a moment to remember our absent friends,” Hutzell said.
The medal is awarded to those who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
“We look forward to hearing their response to that request,” Hutzell said.
Brown said the awarding of the medal is the sole discretion of President Donald J. Trump, but said he would support Winters as a candidate for it.
“I will certainly support that, no question about that,” he said. “I’ll be as assertive as I can be and encourage the Maryland delegation to join.”
Brown said his office was also looking into what additional recognition Congress could bestow on Winters, “a prolific writer, mother of three Navy officers and an American hero.”
Brown’s full remarks are below:
Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to speak out of order to address the House for one minute.
Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, June 28, a gunman targeted a cherished community newspaper and our nation’s free press - killing five people. The Capital Gazette is one of our nation’s oldest newspapers - having served Maryland’s capital city of Annapolis for 291 years. In fact, it was one of the first newspapers to publish the Declaration of Independence - although it appeared on Page 2, because local news always took precedence. The Annapolis community, which Congressman Sarbanes and I have the privilege of representing - is tight-knit community. The men and women lost in this horrific attack were friends, neighbors and extended family members.
We rise to honor the life of Rebecca Smith - who was quiet but had a ‘big heart’ and described herself as a “bonus mom to the best kid ever.” John McNamara who went by Mac - who loved covering sports as much as playing them. Gerald Fischman - the consummate newspaperman working 12 hours a day or more, who editorialized about gun violence and became victim of it. Rob Hiaasen - a giant in stature and in character who generously mentored young journalists. Wendi Winters - a prolific writer, mother of three Navy officers and an American hero who charged at the gunman and saved lives.
Those who were senselessly gunned down were members of our valued local press corps. In America, we cherish and value our free and independent press. It is a crucial pillar of our democracy. We should not tolerate threats and hatred directed at the media and should support those who bring us the news every day.
Today, we also honor the brave and swift action by first responders who were on the scene within one minute of 9-1-1 calls.
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Today we honor the enduring courage of the of The Capital Gazette staff. Their dedication and service to their readers, and their commitment to a vibrant free press, are a tribute to their profession and professionalism, and to the resilience of the Annapolis community. Mr. Speaker, I’d ask the House to pause for a moment of silence to honor Rebecca, John, Gerald, Rob, Wendi and all those who are impacted by the shooting at The Capital Gazette.