An armored truck rumbled outside the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis. Police with assault rifles walked the street. Yellow crime tape cordoned off the newsroom where the journalists were fatally shot.
And across the street, their colleagues — two reporters, one photographer — worked to report the story of the day: the massacre of their friends and co-workers.
“I don’t know what else to do except this,” said reporter Chase Cook, the grief showing in his eyes.
Cook, a state politics reporter for The Capital newspaper, had worked 16 hours on Tuesday covering the primary elections. So he was home Thursday afternoon when a gunman blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom. Armed with smoke grenades and a shotgun, police say, the attacker killed five people, and two others were injured — reporters, editors, sales assistants.
Just that morning, assistant editor Rob Hiaasen had called Cook. A reader had complained about a headline.
McKerrow had started his workday at sunrise, photographing the induction of the newest class at the Naval Academy. By afternoon, he was driving home to celebrate his daughter's birthday. He had promised her a snowball.
Hutzell had called him, too.
"He said he'd heard there had been a shooting," McKerrow said. “He couldn't get in touch with anyone in the newsroom."
As McKerrow drove, he heard sirens.
"Literally, that same moment, I saw dozens of emergency vehicles. ... My heart sank.”
Those who escaped the gunman were at the police station and unreachable. Cook scrolled through their tweets, glimpses of chaos: “Please help us … gunman shot through the glass door … opened fire on multiple employees … nothing more terrifying.”
Furgurson’s pickup truck — the one he had driven back and forth across Anne Arundel County in his 19 years with the paper — became their makeshift office. There was a Jesus figurine on the dash, a blues CD in the radio, and laptops in the truck bed where McKerrow was filing photos from the scene.
Cook leaned against the tailgate, a reporter’s notepad in his back pocket, typing updates on his cellphone.
They knew few details. They tracked updates from police.
At least five people were killed and several others were “gravely injured” in a shooting Thursday afternoon at the Capital Gazette in Anne Arundel County, authorities said. (Eduardo A. Encina/Baltimore Sun video)
As they worked, a swarm of national news media descended on their office, home to a pair of local newspapers tracing back nearly 300 years.