President Donald Trump on Friday honored the victims of a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, saying journalists should be able to do their jobs without fear of being violently attacked.
“Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job,” Trump said. “This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief.”
Suspect Jarrod Warren Ramos is accused of entering the Capital Gazette on Thursday and opening fire. Authorities say he killed five people, who were all employees of the newspaper. The five victims were editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59; staff writer John McNamara, 56; sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34; and Wendi Winters, 65, who worked in special publications.
“To the families of the victims, there are no words to express our sorrow for your loss. Horrible, horrible event, horrible thing happened. When you’re suffering, we pledge our eternal support,” Trump said. “The suffering is so great – I’ve seen some of the people – so great. My government will not rest until we have done everything in our power to reduce violent crime and to protect innocent life. We will not ever leave your side. So our warmest, best wishes and regrets.”
The Capital Gazette continued to publish a paper amid the horrific tragedy. Their opinion page was left mostly blank and instead had a simple message: “Today, we are speechless. This page is intentionally left blank today to commemorate victims of Thursday’s shootings at our office.”
— Capital Gazette (@capgaznews) June 29, 2018
The suspect had a prior relationship with the newspaper and held a grudge against the staff there, CNN reports.
Court documents showed that Ramos had filed a defamation claim against the paper in 2012. The dispute was over an article in the Capital Gazette that detailed his guilty plea in a 2011 harassment case.
Titled “Jarrod wants to be your friend,” the story was written by staff writer Eric Hartley and detailed the case where Ramos repeatedly contacted a former high school classmate via Facebook, according to court documents.
Court records show that in July 2012, Ramos filed a complaint against Hartley and the newspaper, alleging the story defamed him. The case was eventually dismissed.