A series of events will be held this month in honor of the five Capital Gazette employees who were killed a year ago after a gunman opened fire in its Annapolis office.
The commemorations include a concert at Maryland Hall, the unveiling of a memorial garden, a forum and a moment of silence coinciding with the one-year anniversary.
The horrific attack June 28 took the lives of Gerald Fischman, 61, the newsroom’s editorial page editor; Rob Hiaasen, 59, an editor and features columnist; John McNamara, 56, a sportswriter, news reporter and editor; Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant, and Wendi Winters, 65, a news reporter and community columnist.
“This will be a difficult time for everyone here,” said Rick Hutzell, editor of Capital Gazette, which is part of Baltimore Sun Media.
“To those who have planned remembrances of June 28, or have chosen to honor the lives of our friends, or who are working to pay respect to Freedom of the Press, we offer our sincere thanks.”
This past year saw a continuous cycle of commemorative events as well as the establishment of a college scholarship and a family fund to remember the victims and the newsroom’s commitment to press freedom in its aftermath. The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County administers both funds.
The Capital Gazette Memorial Scholarship Fund supports students enrolled at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Fischman and McNamara were alumni, and Hiaasen worked there as an adjunct professor, teaching news writing. The fund is also in honor of Rachael Pacella, an alumna and Capital reporter who was injured as a result of the attack. The scholarship has $180,148 to distribute next year, according to Amy Francis, the foundation’s director of development.
Over 6,000 donors, businesses and foundations also contributed to the Capital Gazette Families Fund, which has been applied to death benefits, victims who were injured in the shooting and some other Capital Gazette employees. The fund has distributed $1.8 million to individuals to date, Francis said, after raising about $1.9 million. In September, the Michael and Jackie Ferro Foundation contributed $1 million to the fund; Michael Ferro is the former chairman of the Capital Gazette’s parent company, Tribune Publishing.
Most events are scheduled for June 28, the one-year anniversary of the shooting and the date selected for the state’s first Freedom of the Press Day:
Memorial Garden Dedication
A memorial garden will be dedicated by Baltimore Sun Media and the City of Annapolis at 10:30 a.m. June 28 at the Acton’s Cove Waterfront Park. Representatives from Baltimore Sun Media and Gavin Buckley, the mayor of Annapolis, will speak. The event is open to the public.
Moment of Silence
At 2:33 p.m. June 28, which marks the time the gunman entered the news organization's office, Tribune Publishing staff at properties across the country will pause and remember their five co-workers who were killed.
Hope and Remembrance Concert
At 7 p.m. June 28, the City of Annapolis is hosting a concert and community gathering at Maryland Hall with musical performances by Eastport Oyster Boys, Gary Wright and Leah Weiss, and the First Christian Church of Annapolis Gospel Choir. Family, friends, and colleagues will recall their favorite memories of Fischman, Hiaasen, McNamara, Smith and Winters. The event will end with a candlelight illumination in the Maryland Hall Labyrinth.
Gun Violence Summit
On June 27 and 28, the City of Annapolis will host the Safe Cities summit, “a forum where stakeholders, policymakers and academics can come together to discuss how we can move to build informed strategies to prevent and reduce gun violence,” spokeswoman Mitchelle Stephenson said.
In an emailed statement, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley added, “With so much gun violence, I thought we needed to be talking. Bringing people together to see if there is some way to save some of our residents from the terror and grief that we experienced in Annapolis.”
In the months following the attack, the newspaper has been recognized nationally, earning awards for its coverage of the tragedy.
In November, the Newseum in Washington D.C. unveiled “Behind the News: A Deadly Attack on a Community Newspaper,” an installation shedding light on the mass shooting and the emotional fortitude exhibited by the staff after the tragedy.
The staff was among those named Time’s Person of the Year in December. The magazine chose “The Guardians and the War on Truth” as its winner, naming the Capital Gazette among its recipients.
The Pulitzer Prize Board this spring awarded a special citation to Capital Gazette staff “for demonstrating unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief.”
In April, Freedom of the Press Day was signed into state law, marking June 28 a commemorative day in honor of Fischman, Hiaasen, McNamara, Smith and Winters.