Five people were killed when a gunman with a grudge and a shotgun stormed the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday afternoon. The dead were identified as four journalists and a recently hired sales assistant. Here are their stories.
Robert Hiaasen, 59
Hiaasen was an assistant editor and columnist at the Capital Gazette, where he started working in 2010. The Baltimore Sun describes him as a “lanky, endearingly goofy storyteller” who was a James Taylor fan and had a “special insight into people’s lives and their character.”
He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, where he was known to be generous with his time, never too busy to share his extensive knowledge with budding reporters.
Hiaasen was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and was the brother of best-selling novelist and journalist Carl Hiaasen. He was a father of three, and celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary with his wife, Maria Hiaasen, just last week. Thursday was Maria’s 58th birthday.
“There was no finer human being, there just wasn’t,” Maria Hiaasen told the Sun-Sentinel. “And certainly no finer father and he was a damn fine journalist, too.” He’d been looking forward to his fall term teaching at the University of Maryland, she said.
Wendi Winters, 65
Winters was a community news reporter and columnist at the Capital Gazette, according to her profile on the newspaper’s website. Hailing from New York City, she worked in public relations before entering the writing world, with her byline appearing in “AP Features, Copley News and a Manhattan weekly.” The Sun says Winters was a mother of four who moved to Annapolis 20 years ago. She publicly described herself as a “proud Navy mom” and “Girl Scout.”
“She really loved storytelling,” Kathryn Flynn, a former editor at the Capital Gazette, told the Sun. “She loved working with people.”
McNamara was a veteran Gazette reporter—a “jack of all trades” who loved playing and writing about sports, according to The Baltimore Sun.
“[H]e was a loyal friend with an infectious laugh, and he was a willing mentor for young journalists,” Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker told the newspaper. “In other words, he never allowed his professional distance to detract from just being a thoroughly decent person.”
Most recently, McNamara served as an editor and reporter at the Bowie Blade-News and the Crofton-West County Gazette. He met his wife, Andrea Chamblee, at his beloved alma mater, the University of Maryland.
Rebecca Smith, 34
Smith had been recently hired at the Gazette as a sales assistant after leaving her job in marketing.
She was a survivor of endometriosis, describing herself on Facebook as a “dog mom” and “bonus mom to the best kid ever.” Her Facebook page is full of photos of her family, including her fiancé, with whom she lived in eastern Baltimore County.
“She was very thoughtful person,” her boss at the Gazette, Marty Padden, told the Sun. “She was kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed. She seemed to really enjoy to be working in the media business.”
Gerald Fischman, 61
Fischman handled the Gazette’s editorials—both writing and editing them—as well as editing for the Saturday and Sunday editions of the paper, according to his profile on the newspaper’s website. He covered serious community news, like sexual assaults and car crashes, but also penned more whimsical stories, like a newsroom-themed Christmas poem for the paper.
The Sun reports that Fischman was witty and brilliant behind his shy demeanor. He reportedly had become known as the newsroom’s “wicked pen” since he joined in 1992.
“He had ability that, I thought, deserved a higher calling than the Capital,” editor and publisher Tom Marquardt told the Sun. “He was a great writer. He was a really smart guy, so smart that he tried out for Jeopardy twice.”