The crowd sang the last notes of “Amazing Grace,” and Pat Furgurson stepped to the microphone, a reporter’s notebook tucked into his back pocket.
“For a moment yesterday, the sword was mightier,” said Mr. Furgurson, a reporter for The Capital, where five people were killed in a shooting on Thursday afternoon. “But this morning, we put out a newspaper. And we’ll put out a newspaper tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.”
Mr. Furgurson was standing in front of at least 200 people at a vigil by a mall parking lot on Friday night. In front of him were five tall candles, one for each victim. Across the street, the building that houses the Capital Gazette office was still cordoned off with police tape.
“We’ll continue to do our bit to provide real news to better inform citizens in this republic,” Mr. Furgurson said. “We are not the enemy. We are you.”
In parks and on sports fields, from South Florida to Texas, Americans have gathered again and again this year to grieve in the wake of violent tragedies, and now it was Annapolis’s turn. The crowd held candles and passed around white flowers in the fading light and stifling heat, trying to make sense of a new front in mass shootings: an attack on a local newspaper.
The suspected gunman, who had railed against the paper online and in lawsuits, shot through the office’s glass doors on Thursday, turning a quiet afternoon of filing stories into chaos. Five people were killed: Gerald Fischman, 61, the newsroom’s editorial page editor; Rob Hiaasen, 59, an editor and features columnist; John McNamara, 56, a sports reporter and editor for the local weekly papers; Wendi Winters, 65, a local news reporter and community columnist; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant.
The shooting has shaken newsrooms around the country. Mr. Furgurson and the other speakers at the vigil, who included local religious and political leaders, emphasized their paper’s roots and its deep connection to the community it covers.
“They didn’t come from someplace else,” said Michael E. Busch, the Democratic speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, who said his daughter had played soccer with a daughter of Ms. Winters. “They were part of us.”
The evening was interwoven with prayer, song and an appreciation of the work of the journalists killed in the attack.
“We’re here to celebrate the fact that we have a free press in the United States,” said Stephen Tillett, a pastor in Annapolis, near the beginning of the vigil. “That we have a paper that’s been carrying on its business since 1727.”
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SOURCE: NY Times, Jess Bidgood