Maryland General Assembly honors victims of Capital Gazette shooting, names June 28 “Freedom of the Press Day”


The Maryland General Assembly unanimously voted to make June 28 “Freedom of the Press Day” in honor of those who died during the Capital Gazette shooting in June 2018.

Delegate Alice Cain, D-Anne Arundel, and Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-Anne Arundel, sponsored the joint resolution. The measure passed through the Senate on March 16 and through the House of Delegates 137-0 on March 27.

Gerald Fischman, 61; Rob Hiaasen, 59; John McNamara, 56; Wendi Winters, 65; and Rebecca Smith, 34, were all killed during the mass shooting at the office of the Capital Gazette. The alleged gunman, Jarrod Ramos, is currently awaiting his scheduled trial in June 2019.

Ramos allegedly stormed into The Capital office in Annapolis and opened fired with a loaded shotgun and not only killed the five victims, but injured two others. On the day of the shooting, Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf told the public that the attack was planned.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said Krampf. “This person was prepared today to come in. He was prepared to shoot people.”

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley shared his gratitude for the passing of the bill at its testimonial hearing. “We appreciate you hearing us out and considering this,” he said. “We will remember them on June 28 and every 28 day of June for as long as I’m around.”

Hiaasen was also a lecturer in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Rafael Lorente, academic associate dean at Maryland, interviewed Hiaasen for the position and got a chance to know his personality.

“I interviewed him for about an hour and a half and you could tell he was a natural teacher,” Lorente said. “He was a smart and charming man who just got it. Young writers loved working with him.”

“Freedom of the Press Day” will become the 17th official commemorative day in Maryland.

Cain, speaking at the bill testimony, mentioned a phrase from Montana Geimer, daughter of Wendi Winters, who said those who are grieving do not want sympathy, but want the state and the country to be proactive instead of reactive.

“What Wendi’s daughter said has stayed with me for some time,” Cain said. “She said ‘My family does not want your pity. We want your action.’”