Memorial held for 5 slain Capital Gazette employees

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Journalists honoured the five Capital Gazette employees who were shot to death in their newsroom last year by unveiling a plaque Friday with the names of the dead in a garden next to five rosebushes.

The plaque in the waterside park acknowledges Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith as “our cherished colleagues.”

“This community is very lucky,” said Rick Hutzell, the newspaper’s editor. “It has what a lot of communities have lost and that is a newsroom. A newsroom is a room full of people who turn up every day to celebrate our successes, to point out what is wrong, and to ask what could be better. That is what journalism is about, so it is extremely fitting that this is where this garden is … it’s a place where people come for a quiet moment to think about things.”

Hutzell spoke of all five of his slain colleagues. He remembered that Hiaasen used to come to the park to think about his work.

“Come here and think about what these five lives meant,” Hutzell said. “I am far richer for having known them, and I am far poorer for having lost them.”

David Dreier, chairman of the board of Tribune Publishing, said the attack has inspired plans for a memorial in Washington for fallen journalists.

“There’s a lot of attention that has been focused on journalists who have paid the ultimate price, but I want every member of the families to know that it was this tragedy that has sparked the plan that we hope within the next seven-plus years — this will be a long journey — we will see on or near our national mall in Washington, D.C., a memorial for fallen journalists,” Dreier said.

Marty Padden, the Capital Gazette’s advertising director, said a part of him died on the day a year ago when a man who held a grudge against the paper for an article it had written about him entered the newsroom and opened fire.

“Rob, Wendi, Rebecca, John and Gerald live on eternally in my mind and yours,” Padden said. “I hear their voices. I feel the absence of their energy and want to do my part to keep their memories alive, just beyond names listed in the media.”

Staff from the newspaper, including several who escaped the newsroom on the day of the shooting, as well as family of the dead, gathered for the memorial.

“Today is overwhelming and sad and awful, but it’s also a sign of hope and remembrance, and I want people to take today and take it with a purpose, not just with sadness,” said Selene San Felice, a reporter who hid under a desk during the attack.

Tribune Publishing, which owns the newspaper, also held a moment of silence around the nation at 2:33 p.m. That is the time the shooting happened last June 28.

Local residents also attended the memorial.

“This is an important day. It’s a sad day. I’m so proud of my hometown paper,” said Stephanie Kalinich, of nearby Arnold, Maryland.

A separate community gathering also was scheduled at a local theatre Friday evening.

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