Colleagues remember 5 Capital Gazette employees gunned down inside Maryland newsroom

ABC NEWS – The five people shot dead at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, Thursday were all employees of the small local newspaper.

Now, colleagues of the four journalists and one sales assistant are mourning them, even as they continue to report on the tragedy.

Here is what we know about the victims:

Wendi Winters

Wendi Winters, 65, worked in special publications for the Capital Gazette.

Winters, a writer and a mother of four, had joined the Capital Gazette staff in 2013 after previously working as a freelancer for the paper for a decade, the Baltimore Sun, which owns the Gazette, reported.

“Wendi was a firecracker of activity & life,” Capital Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts tweeted. “When she wasn’t writing 10 stories a week she was sponsoring multiple Midshipmen annually. She inspired me to become a sponsor. She was proud of her dad, a Naval Academy grad who fought in WWII & her kids.”

“She knew everybody & every story in Annapolis,” he said. “The newsroom will never be the same without her spirit & energy. I am grateful to have called her a friend.”

Rob Hiaasen

Veteran journalist Rob Hiaasen worked as an assistant editor at the paper since 2010. He joined the Baltimore Sun as a features writer in 1993, the paper wrote.

He was the brother of author Carl Hiaasen.

“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,” Carl Hiaasen wrote on Facebook. “Rob was an editor and columnist at the paper, and one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.”

Rob Hiaasen, a father of three, “could talk for hours about how much he loved each of his children, what made them unique, his dreams for them, and his utter delight in the adults they were becoming,” Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox tweeted. “I know I’m wounded having lost a friend. Please think of his kids, too.”

Cox said Hiaasen would “send me random, off-the-wall emails just to make me smile — years after I stopped working for him.”

“If you told him a moving story, he’d cry with you,” she tweeted. “You’d know your story pitch landed if his eyes sparkled.”

Rob Hiaasen was married for 33 years. His wife’s birthday was the day of the shooting, according to the Sun Sentinel.

“There was no finer human being,” his wife told the Sentinel. “And certainly no finer father. And he was a damn fine journalist, too.”

Gerald Fischman

Gerald Fischman, 61, was an editorial page editor, described as “the conscience and voice” of the paper in his over 25 years there, the Sun reported.

“He was extraordinarily knowledgeable about the political dynamics of the community,” House Speaker Michael E. Busch said, according to the Sun. “He was a bit of a loner, but was very, very intelligent. He was a respected writer and captured, for the most part, the feelings within the community.”

“Gerald had the sharpest mind in journalism,” DeButts, the editor, tweeted. “He got the most punch per word – spoken or written – than anyone I’ve ever met. In candidate meetings, he would often sit silent until the closing moments then ask the most poignant question the rest of us missed in the previous hour.”

“He was kind & giving to journalists young & old,” DeButts tweeted. “I learned so much by closing my mouth and listening. He was a world traveler & we would sometimes jokingly wonder if he was a secret agent. He defined The Capital’s editorial page for a quarter century.”

“The void he leaves is immense, to the community & our newsroom,” DeButts said. “Thank you Gerald for being our guiding light.”

John McNamara

John McNamara, 56, worked at the paper as a staff writer — but his Twitter handle gave a glimpse into his true love.

He went by @CapitalOfBBall on Twitter in an ode to his work covering basketball in the capital region. His Twitter is filled with praise for the University of Maryland Terrapins — his alma mater. He linked often to his blog, Capital of Basketball, where he wrote about all manner of hoops.

“John loved his wife & I enjoyed listening to his vacation tales whether it was taking her to NYC for a play or to the beach. He passionately covered Bowie delivering must read copy weekly,” DeButts said. “As former sports scribes we bonded over the Caps, the Nats & any other daily outrage. He was a true newspaperman & I am honored to have called him a friend.”

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith, who was 34 and the youngest victim of the shooting, worked as a sales assistant for the newspaper.

She was described as a recent hire of the paper by the Sun.

“She was a very thoughtful person,” Capital Gazette advertising director Marty Padden told the Sun. “She was kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed. She seemed to really enjoy to be working in the media business.”

Smith, who grew up in the Baltimore area, is survived by her fiance.

She was very close to her fiance’s daughter, the Sun reported.

The girl “totally idolized Becca,” a friend of Smith’s fiance told the Sun.” They had such an amazing relationship.”

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