Trump: 'Journalists Should be Free from the Fear of Being Violently Attacked'
WASHINGTON -- President Trump addressed the Annapolis, Md., newsroom shooting at the beginning of a tax reform event today at the White House, saying, "journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job."
Five editors and reporters of the Capital Gazette were killed in the Thursday afternoon attack. Jarrod Ramos of Laurel, Md., 38, who had harassed the newspaper for years and claimed defamation for their coverage of his 2011 guilty plea for stalking a classmate from high school, was arrested by police and charged today with five counts of first-degree murder.
Police said today that Ramos was investigated in 2013 for threatening comments directed at newspaper staff. The pump-action shotgun used in the attack was purchased a year ago; shotgun sales are regulated only by federal law in the state. Before the attack began, the shooter barricaded the rear doors of the newspaper's offices.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said today that "journalism is a noble profession upon which our democracy depends, and we will fight to defend it." He ordered flags flown at half-staff.
Trump called the shooting a "horrific" attack that "shocked the conscience of our nation, and filled our hearts with grief."
"To the families of the victims: There are no words to express our sorrow for your loss. Horrible, horrible event, horrible thing happened. In your suffering, we pledge our eternal support. The suffering is so great. I've seen some of the people -- so great," he said. "My government will not rest until we have done everything in our power to reduce violent crime, and to protect innocent life. We will not ever leave your side."
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, an Australian who immigrated to Maryland in 1992, said the city held an active-shooter drill just last week, which he thinks "helped save some lives yesterday."
"You can't imagine the horror that they had to go through. And there was nowhere to go. It was a newsroom with just no -- not even any partitions in that newsroom from what I remember. It's just desks and nowhere to hide, you know," he told CNN.
"We've got to remember that we're all neighbors, you know. And just because you have a different opinion to someone else, or they have a different opinion to you, you shouldn't hate them," Buckley added, noting he shares early-morning runs "with Tea Party guys and bleeding heart liberals and we all make fun of each other's politics, but then we sit down and have a cup of coffee."
"People, just because you are different, you shouldn't hate. And I think that locally that's why a lot of us guys ran, because, you know, locally, we think we can bring back love and hope and positive things to the country."