Capital Gazette shooting victims remembered

Meredith Howard, Editor-in-Chief

Five Capital Gazette employees were killed on June 28, 2018 when Jarrod W. Ramos opened fire in their Annapolis office. Ramos was charged with five accounts of first-degree murder. The Lamp stands in solidarity with the Capital Gazette and hopes to honor the victims with this tribute.

Wendi Winters:

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Wendi Winters charged an armed assailant during the Annapolis attack. She screamed in his face while running at him with a trash can and recycling bin.

The shooter killed Winters, a Special Publications Editor for the Gazette, but she is now hailed as a hero by the six survivors of the shooting.

Winters had attended a training session about active shootings at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis that she was an avid member of only a few weeks prior to her death.

As a mother of four, Winters was said to be an incredibly compassionate woman who would fight tooth and nail for what she believed in.

Winters was a dedicated volunteer at the Annapolis Church, and one of her regular commitments was organizing their bi-annual blood drive. The Church will hold the inaugural Wendi Winters Memorial Blood Drive on September 15th at a local middle school.

Gerald Fischman:

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Gerald Fischman, 61, was the Editorial Page Editor for the Capital Gazette. Gerald shared his witty and insightful editorials with the Annapolis community for over 25 years.

Gerald was said to be meticulous in his work, but political editorials were not his only love. He wrote this poem to his wife, Erica Fischman, on the last Valentine’s they will spend with each other:

“I love you each day, honey, from the moment that I wake. And I’m going to keep on loving you until the last breath that I take.” Erica read a selection of her husband’s love poetry at his funeral that was held at the Judean Memorial Gardens in Olney.

Annapolis political figures also paid homage to this respected writer, commending his great knowledge of small town politics.

Gerald recently earned two honors from the Maryland-D.C. Press Association. One was for an editorial he wrote about censorship at City Council meetings, and the other was about a noose found at a Crofton school.

Rob Hiaasen:

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Rob Hiaasen, 59, assistant editor and Sunday columnist at the Capital Gazette, was remembered by his wife as “a giant, not just in stature but in character”.

Rob was shot to death during the attack on the Gazette. Multiple family members have released statements lamenting his death and commemorating his legacy.

Rob started writing for the Gazette in 2010, and spent 8 years mentoring younger reporters and writing humorous stories that tugged at the heartstrings of his readers.

Carl Hiaasen, Rob’s brother, writes for the Miami Herald, and he had this to say about his brother’s death: “I am devastated and heartsick to confirm the loss of my wonderful brother Rob today in the mass shooting in the newsroom at the Annapolis Capital Gazette…he spent his whole gifted career as a journalist, and he believed profoundly in the craft and mission of serving the public’s right to know the news.”

Rebecca Smith:

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Rebecca Smith was recently hired as an advertising sales assistant at the Capital Gazette.

Her family mourns her death intensely; she was only 34 years old when she was killed in the Annapolis attack.

Smith’s uncle remembers her as “a good kid (who) never got into trouble.” A survivor of endometriosis, Smith was a resilient young woman.

Eleni Stylianou, Smith’s colleague, says she considered Smith to be a close friend. “She was always so sweet and willing to help. She was a loving future stepmother to her fiance’s daughter.”

Smith was engaged to Dewayne Poling, and Poling made a heart-wrenching social media post after learning of his fiancee’s death.

“This cant be real… I will ALWAYS love you, no matter what. As you used to tell me “You are my human.” No one ever put up with or attempted to make me a better person like you did. I will love you forever… To the moon and back. I love you more… Til we meet again beautiful, til we meet again.”

John McNamara:

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John McNamara’s ashes were spread at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. according to the wishes he shared with his wife, Andrea Chamblee. Chamblee shared her doubts about how realistic this dream was.

“I was dumbstruck, I thought they couldn’t possibly do it.”

McNamara, 56, was a lifetime sports fan and sports writer who worked at the Capital Gazette for more than 20 years.

In addition to granting his request, Nationals Park also honored the fan with a name plate and flowers in the press box in the stadium.

Dave Johnson, Senior Sports Director at Washington’s Top News (WTOP) remembered an interview that McNamara conducted with him about his job at WTOP; “Through his inquisitive and sensitive questioning, McNamara did a wonderful job of telling my story. The article was more about why I do what I do, instead of what I do.” Johnson was familiar with McNamara in various capacities.

Meredith Howard can be reached at [email protected]