Nation & World

5 dead, gunman in custody after shooting at Capital Gazette building in Annapolis, police say

Police officers respond to an active shooter inside a city building in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018.   REUTERS/Greg Savoy
Police officers respond to an active shooter inside a city building in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Greg Savoy
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Police have confirmed five people are dead and a gunman is in custody after a shooting in the Capital Gazette building in Annapolis.

The exact number of casualties remains unclear, but several are gravely injured, Anne Arundel County police said.

Only one suspect was involved, police said.

“We’re still talking to the individual, we’re engaging the individual, we’re trying to find a motive,” Anne Arundel County police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said.

A heavy police presence saturated the area and occupants in the office building at the shooting site were being evacuated to a nearby mall.

The shooting unfolded at around 3 p.m. in the building on Bestgate Road.

“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” Gazette reporter Phil Davis said on Twitter. “Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.”

Authorities evacuated the building to a Lord and Taylor store at the mall across the street.

The Capital Gazette, Annapolis’ daily paper, is widely read in Maryland’s state capital and+ in surrounding Anne Arundel County, where it is headquartered.

The newspaper touts itself as one of the oldest publishers in the country, with roots going back to the Maryland Gazette in 1727.

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“Devastated & heartbroken. Numb,” Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts said on Twitter. “Please stop asking for information/interviews. I’m in no position to speak, just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day. There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays - just a passion for telling stories from our communty.”

Within about 45 minutes of the shooting at its offices, the paper managed to post news about it on its website, CapitalGazette.com, using a Baltimore Sun story.

The editorial staff includes 31 people.

People were seen walking out from offices with their hands raised above their heads as police cleared the area.

Karen Burd, 27, was on her fourth day at work in the tax litigation firm located in the building.

“It’s crazy. You see these things on the news but you never think it’s going to happen to you,” she said.

A co-worker told her there was an active shooter in the building.

Her first thought was to find a room to barricade themselves. Five of them crammed into the room. They called 911 to tell them they were there and stayed there until police arrived banging on the door.

“I started praying,” she said tears filling her eyes. “You just think is this going to be my last day.”

A police helicopter is flying overhead the scene and more than 15 cruisers have blocked a portion of the parking lot at the nearby Annapolis Mall.

Rayne Foster, who worked on the fourth floor of the building, sent a text to her daughter.

“There’s an active shooter. I love you.”

Sloan’s Selleh, 19, said she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“It happens in movies. This is not supposed to happen,” Sellah said, standing outside the mall with her mom and one of her co-workers. “It shouldn’t happen.”

Her mother was still in shock.

She and the more than a dozen others ran to a room. And locked themselves in.

“I was taking deep breathes,” she said.

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“We could hear them busting out the glass doors and windows,” she said. They were rushed down the stairs with their hands up. Their bags were checked “It was so surreal.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, R, said in a Twitter message that he was “absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.”

“Your heart goes out to all the people who lost their lives, all the families, and all the people who were affected here,” Hogan said later at a news conference standing with Anne Arundel County police and local officials.

The FBI, ATF and Maryland State Police also reported to the scene to assist local authorities.

“I encourage everyone to stay away from the area and heed the advice of our public safety officials,” Schuh said as police were clearing and evacuating the building. “This is devastating.”

President Donald Trump said he has been briefed on the shooting.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” the president said in a Tweet. “Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.”

The impact of the shooting reverberated through newsrooms outside of Maryland. New York City Police said it “deployed counterterrorism teams to media organizations” in and around the city “out of an abundance of caution.” New York police said the additional resources was not due to a specific threat but has become standard practice in response to active shooter events.

The paper had a daily circulation of around 29,000 and Sunday circulation of 34,000 as of 2014.

Commonly referred to as the Capital, the paper was founded in 1884 as the Evening Gazette. The Baltimore Sun Media Group--owned by Tronc Inc. of Chicago--bought the paper in 2014 from Norfolk, Virginia-based Landmark Media Enterprises. The new owners converted it from an afternoon publication into a morning paper in 2015.

The paper had previously been part-owned by the late Philip Merrill, the owner and publisher of Washingtonian magazine.

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The paper traces its roots to a related paper, the twice-weekly Maryland Gazette, which was founded in 1727 in Annapolis and is one of America’s oldest periodicals. One of the Maryland Gazette’s first publishers was a protege of Benjamin Franklin. An early editor and publisher, Anne Catherine Hoof Green, one of the first women to hold such a job at an American newspaper.

“Founded by British journalist William Parks, the Maryland Gazette recorded several achievements during its illustrious history,” the newspaper says on its website. “In 1767 Anne Catharine Green became the first female newspaper publisher in the country and the newspaper fought the dreaded stamp tax that started the American Revolution.”

The company moved to its offices on Bestgate Road in September 2014

The Annapolis paper is unrelated to the chain of weekly Gazette papers that were published in the Washington suburbs by The Washington Post until 2014.

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The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi and Tom Jackman contributed to this report.

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