Killed newspaper employees were motivated to work, community

Four journalists and a sales assistant, were killed Thursday in a shooting at a Maryland newspaper. Authorities say that the shooter went to the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, and “looked for his victims.” The employees killed were Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.


Gerald Fischman, the editorial page editor of the Capital Gazette, was a “old-fashioned journalist,” a former editor-in-chief of the paper said.

Steve Gunn-remember Fischman as “the master of the AP-style”, who “made sure everything was exactly right.”

“He was famous for working long days and very precise in his language and always ensure that the editorial page reflects the heart of the newspaper,” Gunn said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Fischman had worked on the paper for 26 years.

Journalists and others who knew Fischman told the Baltimore Sun he was strong-willed, smart and capable local politicians on their guard.

“When I sat for my approval interviews in 2010, he made it clear to me was to be earned, and in no way guaranteed” former two-term Anne Arundel County Councilman Jamie Benoit told the newspaper. “He asked difficult questions and exposed every weakness in my legislation. He treated the council of races as they were in presidential races.”


Journalist Rob Hiaasen’s family is “devastated” by his death, said his brother, the writer Carl Hiaasen.

Carl Hiaasen, a fertile novelist, and a long time columnist for the Miami Herald, confirmed that his brother, also a columnist and editor, was one of the Annapolis victims.

In a brief phone conversation with The Associated Press, Carl Hiaasen said his family is “devastated beyond words” by the senseless killing of his brother in the Capital Gazette.

“He was the most remarkable person. As gifted and talented and committed to journalism,” he said, his voice choked with emotion.

Said he was also plagued with sadness to speak further, Hiaasen referred an AP reporter to something he had just posted on his Facebook page, in which Rob as one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.”

Gunn, the former Capital Gazette editor, said Rob Hiaasen, was a “gifted editor who had a aura of an artist around him, that people want to make of journalism is a wonderful profession.”


John McNamara was a longtime employee of the newspaper, who had worked as a sports writer and editor and more recently moved to a weekly publication, the Bowie Blade-News, colleague David Broughton said.

Broughton, the newspaper sports editor, said that he had worked with McNamara since 1994 and sat in a neighboring cell.

“I could hear his conversations (in the newspaper),” said Broughton. He was just a really thoughtful guy and a very intellectual man. He could have an intelligent conversation about anything, whether it’s politics or travel or English literature.”

McNamara was an avid basketball player with a self-deprecating sense of humor and roaring laughter, who was married to his college sweetheart, Broughton said.

“He has often said that marrying her was his biggest achievement,” Broughton said.

Gunn said McNamara was a no-nonsense “classic” to come to work and tell me what I should do.”


Rebecca Smith was a sales assistant at the Capital Gazette.

Her boss, the Capital Gazette advertising director Marty Toads, described her as a thoughtful person who made sure that the sales office is run smoothly.

“She was kind and considerate and willing to help when needed. They seemed to like to work in the media,” the Toads told The Baltimore Sun .

Kelli Peleska, who played softball with Smith’s fiance, said Smith attended games and traveled to tournaments with the team.

“She was the absolute nicest person. The biggest heart and a great loss for this world,” Peleska said on Thursday evening.


Special publications editor Wendi Winters ‘ the heart of the newspaper,” Gunn said.

Winters was passionate about serving the community and was a role model for younger journalists, he recalled.

“She was in many ways the best part of the newspaper that she cared so much about the city,” he said.

The Sun reported the 65-year-old mother of four moved to Maryland 20 years ago, after a career in the fashion and public relations in New York.

“My mother was a wonderful woman and a great reporter,” daughter Winters Geimer told the newspaper. “Her life was a gift to everyone who knew her and the world will not be the same without her. We are grieving and trying to make sure that all of us can be together to celebrate the life of our mother.”


The AP News Research Center in New York and AP writer Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

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