America

Gazette shooting: ‘I don’t know how you prepare for this’

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The city of Annapolis was shocked by the shooting on the Capital Gazette but will rally around the newspaper in a show of solidarity, a columnist at the publication has said.

Contributing columnist Terence Smith spoke to Sky News from the Maryland city just opposite the building where gunman Jarrod Ramos opened fire, killing five people.

He said it has been "a remarkable day".

"There is a genuine state of shock," he said. "I don't know how you prepare for this."

Image: Terence Smith is a contributing columnist at the Capital Gazette

Smith, a veteran reporter for various news outlets and a former foreign correspondent, said he was impressed by the newspaper's effort in putting out Friday's edition after the shooting.

The paper reported on the shooting and said it had "intentionally left blank" its opinion page to commemorate the victims of the attack and also because "today, we are speechless".

"The front page today, is a remarkable job, produced under the worst possible circumstances," he said.

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Video: 'Journalists should be free of fear of attack'

"I was impressed they were able to get the paper out under these circumstances."

Smith also paid tribute to the newspaper, one of the oldest in the country.

"It's a broad, open office, there was deliberately little security in keeping with their efforts to be open with community," he said.

"It's been around since 1727 and was rebellious about the crown before 1776.

"That sense of being open and part of the community was reflected in the design and openness of the newsroom and yesterday a man with a gun took advantage of that."

The paper on Friday morning after the shooting
Image: The paper on Friday morning after the shooting

Officials described how the gunman barricaded the back exit to prevent anyone from escaping and blasted his way through the newsroom with a pump-action shotgun.

Smith said he called the newspaper's editor Rick Hutzell as soon as he heard what was happening, but he was "on the road".

"Rick was not there, he was not harmed," said Smith.

"He was racing back to take control and produce this newspaper.

"It couldn't have been a more difficult circumstance, it fell to him, to call the families and pass on this news.

"I admire the attitude they have, to be part of the community, to join the issues such as they may be and not to be scared away from their mission by these circumstances."

Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare 0:26
Video: It was 'one bad guy' – Maryland police

Smith was sceptical that any change in gun control might occur, despite the high number of mass shootings plaguing America.

"How many times does this [the gun control debate] have to be reignited? Mass shooting occur on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in the US.

"I almost despair that anything will ignite enough outrage to counter the lobbying efforts of the gun lobby, the NRA and their supporters.

"What I can hope is that outrageous events like this will persuade enough members of Congress or state legislators to begin to impose some limited sensible gun control measures and get them passed and enacted and enforced.

"I would like to see this happen. Will this cause it? I have no idea."

Maryland shooting suspect Jarrod Ramos
Image: Maryland shooting suspect Jarrod Ramos

But he added that the events would bring the city and its reporters closer together.

"I know that the city of Annapolis, which was founded in 1649, incorporated in 1708 – they're organising a memorial for the five as a way to bind the paper and the community together and that will be held shortly.

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"They were lining up a bagpiper today.

"The bond between the paper and the community will surely increase."

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