Five years ago today, an angry, deranged man entered the Annapolis Capital Gazette newsroom and killed five defenseless journalists. It was gruesome.
It shattered a sense of peace in Maryland’s capital city. It brought grief to the city.
The killer was upset that the paper had run a column about his harassment of a woman. He sought and failed to gain legal recourse. He then systematically pursued his grudge by blasting away with abandon in a newsroom.
Jarrod Ramos is now spending the rest of his life prison. He leaves a legacy of five dead people and a few survivors scarred for life. He showed no remorse during his trial. He confessed his crime. He claimed insanity as his defense.
Mass shootings are commonplace in our nation. We seem to become inured to the multiple tragedies, the senseless loss of life and community disruption.
Freedom of the press is our primary defense against anarchy and government corruption. The Annapolis Gazette Capital could not defend itself against an assault by a man firing a shotgun filled with hatred and revenge. The victims were faceless victims to the shooter.
A memorial in downtown Annapolis pays tribute to the five journalists and the First Amendment right of free speech. It marks an act of terror. It ensures that a rampage of murder will not be forgotten.
What the tasteful memorial does not do is describe the impact of the violence on the victims’ families, friends and associates. It does not address the human damage to a community’s sense of stability.
A coffee shop now occupies the former site of the Capital Gazette newsroom. Life goes on, as it must. Painful memories remain.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. After 44 years in Easton, Howard and his wife, Liz, moved in November 2020 to Annapolis, where they live with Toby, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who has no regal bearing, just a mellow, enticing disposition.