Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Funds honoring slain Capital Gazette staffers have raised nearly $685,000

Thousands of people have contributed nearly $685,000 to a pair of funds created after the June 28 mass shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom, and donations small and large continue to come in.

The outpouring by people with and without direct connections to the Annapolis newspapers has benefited a fund set up for families, victims and survivors of the attack and another for scholarships for aspiring journalists.

Individuals have given directly to the funds, including someone who sent a single dollar. But others such as a banker with offices upstairs from the newspapers, an artist selling T-shirts and a Washington journalist who set up a GoFundMe page in the hours after the shooting have brought in far higher sums.

Among events still to come is a July 28 concert in Annapolis headlined by the Maryland-based band Good Charlotte, with tickets expected to go on sale today.

“My heart goes out to those affected by the shooting,” said Jack Dwyer, chairman and owner of CFG Community Bank, who recently announced a $100,000 donation.

Dwyer said he learned about the attack while watching television in his Florida home and realized it was unfolding in the same building as one of his three bank branches. The bank office was just upstairs from where the newspapers were housed at 888 Bestgate Road.

In addition to tending to his employees, who were physically unharmed and returned to the building after about a week and a half, he wanted another means of helping. A big supporter of education, he decided giving to the scholarship fund was the “right thing to do.”

About 5,300 people from around the world have donated so far to the funds, created by the Annapolis newspapers’ owner. tronc, also the parent company of The Baltimore Sun.

Killed in the attack were 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.

The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, which is managing the funds, already has distributed grants to families for funeral-related expenses, said Melissa Curtin, president and CEO of the Annapolis-based foundation. She couldn’t provide a tally yet because not all of the expenses have been submitted.

The Capital Gazette Families Fund has raised almost $560,000 from about 5,193 donors, while the Capital Gazette Memorial Scholarship has raised $125,000 from 188 people, Curtin said.

“The effects of trauma do not go away overnight,” Curtin said in a statement. “This is just the beginning of a journey for many who have had their lives overturned in unexpected and still unknown ways.”

Curtin said donations will continue to be collected, and the Michael and Jacky Ferro Family Foundation plans to match up to $1 million in donations to the family fund.

Already, the Merrill Family Foundation, founded by the late Philip Merrill, a former owner and publisher of the Capital Gazette, contributed $100,000 to that fund. A separate fundraising effort through GoFundMe started by Madi Alexander, a data reporter for Bloomberg Government, has since been combined with the families fund.

Alexander’s initial goal had been to raise $10,000, and the effort brought in more than $200,000. Alexander said that Bloomberg Philanthropies is matching all donations from Bloomberg employees.

“It was truly a collaborative effort from a Facebook group of journalists who were ready to spring into action within a couple hours of the shooting,” Alexander said. “I think it gave people a way to channel some of their initial sadness and fear into positive action before we even knew the details of who had been hurt or killed. At that point, so many people were desperate to help but didn’t know how.”

Other news organizations have sent reporters and editors to The Sun and The Capital to help produce the newspapers. News outlets, as well as area restaurants, have also sent food. Pets On Wheels sent therapy dogs.

Other fundraisers have taken place or are planned. The Crooked Crab Brewing Co. in Odenton raised $6,500 for the funds through an event in the taproom.

Artist and musician Aaron Yealdhall, who rushed to develop a “Press On” logo after the shooting, estimates he’s raised more than $30,000 and hopes to continue fund raising. He temporarily stopped taking online orders Wednesday after being overwhelmed by requests for more than 2,000 shirts and 800 sticker packs. He is leading a group of artists involved with another benefit called “LOVE Annapolis” planned for August at 49 West Coffeehouse Winebar and Galley.

The Annapolis Rising Festival is being organized by the office of Mayor Gavin Buckley, and the July 28 event will also honor press freedom. Washington Post Editor Marty Baron and some staff from the Capital Gazette are expected to speak. Susan O’Brian, city spokeswoman, said she expected 3,000 tickets to be sold at $25 each, with almost all proceeds going to both funds.

The Bowie Baysox also plan to donate half the ticket sales for tonight’s game to the newspaper funds. Weller Development and the Port Covington development team announced that 10 percent of proceeds from sales on July 31 from three Baltimore restaurants — Rye Street Tavern, Rec Pier Chop House and Nick’s Fish House — will go to the families fund.

Also in Baltimore, Mick O'Shea’s Irish Pub plans a trivia night tonight, a benefit undertaken at the request of a pub regular.

“Although I didn't personally know any of the Gazette victims, we know a lot of people from The Baltimore Sun and other papers,” said bar co-owner Stephanie Webber. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the victims. Hopefully we get a little something good out of something so horrible.”

To donate, visit capitalgazette.com/fund.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lmirabella

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