Capital Gazette owner creates fund for shooting victims, families and scholarship for journalism students

The owner of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis announced the creation of a fund for the families, victims and survivors of the mass shooting Thursday in the newspaper’s office in addition to a scholarship memorial fund for journalism students.

The Capital Gazette Families Fund is being managed through the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, owner tronc announced. The Michael and Jacky Ferro Family Foundation will match up to $1 million in donations.

Tronc is the parent company of The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which includes the Capital.

Tronc CEO and Chairman Justin Dearborn, said the victims would forever be remembered as “outstanding people and journalists who we will continue to honor.”

“Yesterday was an incredibly tragic day for our colleagues in Annapolis — a tragedy felt deeply by all of us at our papers across the country,” Dearborn wrote in a letter to the company. “Our hearts go out to the families, friends and coworkers of Gerald Fischman, Robert Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, who died Thursday in the shooting at the Capital Gazette.”

The fund has received a $100,000 donation from the Merrill Family Foundation, which was founded by the late Philip Merrill, the Capital Gazette’s former owner and publisher.

“As publisher of the Capital Gazette for almost 40 years, this tragedy hits very close to home,” Nancy Merrill, president of the family foundation, said in a statement. “Our family is shocked and horrified, and we are grateful to be able to help the Capital Gazette family in this time of crisis.”

In honor of the victims, the Capital Gazette Memorial Scholarship Fund will provide an annual award for select students pursuing a degree in journalism at the University of Maryland College Park. Fischman and McNamara were alumni of the university, and Hiaasen was a lecturer in journalism there.

Authorities say the shooting was an isolated, premeditated attack on The Capital. Jarrod W. Ramos, a 38-year-old Laurel man, was charged Friday with five counts of first-degree murder. Tronc officials said they are enhancing security across its properties, which include The Baltimore Sun, The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers across the country.

The company extended counseling services to employees at The Capital Gazette and The Sun.

“I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the courageous journalists who stepped up to cover such a difficult and personal news story,” Dearborn wrote. “We appreciate all of our dedicated employees who have provided support and resources to the Capital Gazette and Baltimore Sun Media Group.”

A separate GoFundMe fundraiser set up by a Washington journalist has already doubled its original goal, raising more than $143,000.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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