Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski is getting behind an effort urging President Donald Trump to award slain Capital Gazette writer Wendi Winters with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Maryland’s congressional delegation earlier this month asked Trump to award Winters with the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can bestow on a civilian, for her bravery during a June 28 attack on the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis. The 65-year-old was among the five Capital Gazette staffers killed when a gunman broke into the newsroom and opened fire.
Witnesses saw Winters charge the shooter, brandishing trash and recycling bins and yelling at him to stop, an act her coworkers believe distracted the shooter and saved others during the attack.
Mikulski, now a professor at Johns Hopkins University, joined Maryland’s representatives in recommending Winters for the award. In a letter to Trump, Mikulski said a posthumous award recognizing Winters would keep with the tradition of the Medal of Freedom.
“Wendi Winters was doing her job that day — a job protected by the 1st Amendment of our Constitution,” Mikulski’s letter reads. “Her life in the community speaks to her commitment to American values: her volunteer work with the Girl Scouts, her church and the American Red Cross; her giving spirit — donating over 11 gallons of blood to save others; and her tireless work ethic as a valued member of the Capital Gazette team.”
Mikulski was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
“From my experiences with other Medal of Freedom recipients, I know the shared values among awardees, such as love of country, commitment to service and dedication to others are embodied in the heroic act of Ms. Winters’ final moments, but also in the way she lived — always for others,” Mikulski said in a statement.
Also killed in the shooting were Rob Hiaasen, 59, an assistant editor and columnist for the Capital Gazette; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a longtime sports writer; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant. Jarrod W. Ramos is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in their deaths, as well as attempted murder, assault and weapons offenses.
The Capital Gazette is owned by the Baltimore Sun Media Group.