ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The historic capital of Annapolis is engulfed in the sorrow of a shooting attack on the local newspaper, which killed journalists who reported soccer games, art, and the substance of the small life in the city.
A sign outside The Annapolis Bookstore, a block from the Maryland State House, stark expression of the depth of the sadness many are feeling in this picturesque waterfront capital of about 40,000 near the Chesapeake Bay. “There are no words,” it says.
With the weekly sailboat races and the picturesque town, the inhabitants had in the summer and the slow rhythms, when the shooting shattered the usual tranquility. In a quiet little town where the incoming class of the U. S. Naval Academy just arrived this week and the residents are proud of the rich colonial heritage, the shooting in The Capital that claimed five lives opens a new chapter in the long history.
“It feels so personal,” said Mary Adams, who is the owner of The Annapolis Bookstore, and knew two of the victims. “It has shifted our community, and perhaps the us are more attuned to the fact that we are all in the same boat.”
Adams knew Wendi Winters, the paper’s special projects editor. They met years ago at a Harry Potter night in any other bookstore in the city. She also knew assistant editor-in-chief Rob Hiaasen, also among the dead. The others killed in the Thursday rampage were editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, reporter John McNamara and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.
“I’m just so sad that this happened … the people and their families,” Adams said. “They are all good people just trying to support a local newspaper, and now everyone is wondering how this could have happened.”
Jarrod W. Ramos is charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say he had an old grudge against the paper, complains the in 2012 for an article came about him plead guilty to harassment of a woman. A judge later threw out as unfounded. In the past few years, Ramos repeatedly targeted staff with an angry, profanity-laced tweets.
Designed for an age of horses and buggies than Suv’s, Annapolis has a baroque street plan of the city of traffic circles and diagonal streets that can make it feel far from the modern time. For some, that feeling of withdrawal made Thursday, the tragedy of the more shocking.
Lisa Quina, owner of an interior design studio called barefoot House, recently moved from Baltimore is a city struggling for years to reduce a high number of murders — looking for a smaller, safer community.
One of the considerations for choosing Annapolis was the close-knit nature.
“I think it’s a wake-up call, in every community,” Quina said. “Despite how strange or how historic, how uncomplicated some of our day-to-day challenges are, we are vulnerable to the worst possible scenario.”
Caitlin Walls, who works as an assistant of an interior designer in the store, said Annapolis has always felt for her as a safe place to be. “It is sad, it is a growing reality in places that you thought that was the safer places, Walls, said of the shooting.
And for some raised in Annapolis, such as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the tragedy hits hard, even after they are already elsewhere. Born in Tennessee, Belichick graduated from Annapolis High in the 1970s and has strong ties of when his father was assistant coach at the Navy.
“For my entire life, The Capital, but in my hometown newspaper. My family and I have enjoyed special relationships with many good people who have worked for the newspaper,” Belichick said. “My heart goes out to the victims, their families and the entire Annapolis community.”
Steve Samaras, owner of Zachary’s Jewelers on the Main Street near the City Dock, said he attended a wake Friday evening with his 12-year-old niece. He said that she was already struggling with the consequences of armed violence, because a friend of hers who had moved to Florida had attended Marjory Stone Douglas High School in the Park, where 17 people have been killed in a shooting in February.
“They said, ‘Uncle Steven, I’m afraid.’ What do you say to a 12 year old boy? What do you say to a child,” he said.
More than 1,000 people streamed through Annapolis on Friday evening to remember the victims.
Samaras has experienced elastic side of Annapolis from the first hand. In 2005, the building of his business was destroyed by a fire, and he had to move. Seven days later, he said, the community made sure he was open at its current location.
“So, the resilience, the determination that they showed to me, that is what we see happen here,” he said.