They had vowed to put out a paper, and so they did.
Before the sun rose Friday morning, the Capital Gazette arrived on newsstands and in front yards across Annapolis, where residents said their hometown paper means “everything” to them.
“5 shot dead at The Capital,” read the headline of the article written by 10 journalists on the day five of their colleagues were killed.
A Wawa convenience store less than a mile from the office complex where the newspaper shooting occurred sold out of the newspaper just after 6 a.m. Aubrey Baden III, 50, who said he grew up reading the Capital, grabbed the last one.
“I knew I definitely had to get a copy today,” said Baden, a high school English teacher. “I commend them for putting it out. . . . It’s a beautiful, tightknit community, and we’re all hurting for them.”
“Today, we are speechless,” the newspaper wrote on its editorial page, which was left almost entirely blank to “commemorate victims of Thursday’s shootings at our office.”
Then it listed the five names, beginning with Fischman’s, who remained listed at the top of the page as part of the Gazette’s editorial board.
“I grew up here — the Capital has always been my favorite paper,” said William Turner, a retiree who bought a copy at the Wawa. “It’s sad, it’s disappointing . . . people are frustrated.”
Turner was part of the early morning crowd at the convenience store Friday — a mixture of regulars and those brought to the Annapolis, the state capital, by the tragedy.
People on their way to work grabbed coffee and other essentials alongside police in bulletproof vests and journalists ready for their next live shot.
Most stopped to look at the rack of newspapers near the door.
A white-haired man picked up two copies, then went back for a third.
“We lost good friends and colleagues,” he said as he walked quickly away, his voice breaking and tears in his eyes.
Outside the Capital’s office, in a nondescript office complex that also houses a Kaiser Permanente medical suite and other businesses, camera crews had gathered and Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh (R) was holding his copy of the paper.
“The Capital is our hometown newspaper,” Schuh said. “We are just heartbroken.”
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered Maryland flags lowered through Monday in memory of the victims.
“We honor the dedicated journalists of our hometown newspaper in our state’s capital,” Hogan said in a statement. “Journalism is a noble profession upon which our democracy depends, and we will fight to defend it.”
Jarrod Ramos, charged with five counts of murder in what authorities said was a targeted shooting, was held without bond after a hearing Friday morning in an Annapolis courtroom.
Downtown, near the statehouse and the picturesque waterfront, customers in usually bustling breakfast restaurants were subdued.
“It’s terrible, just terrible,” an Annapolis woman muttered as she inserted coins in a machine to get her copy of the Capital.
Julia Gibb and her husband, artist Jeff Huntington, sat next to each other inside the 49 West Coffeehouse, both reading the paper. They had known Winters, who had covered their work in the community. Gibb described her death as a “huge loss.”
“I was shocked,” said Gibb, who runs a nonprofit arts outreach program and grew up in Annapolis. “I also remembered what one of the Parkland victims said, that she figured it would come to them.
“I’ve been thinking the same thing about us — how long is it going to be?”
Outside the State House, a single protester stood holding a sign imploring lawmakers to get rid of “all the guns.”
“I didn’t know if anyone was doing anything else, but it’s hard to just sit there,” said Anthony Alduino, 25, who arrived at 7:30 a.m.
Inside, Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse set up a memorial for the slain journalists in the first-floor hallway where news organizations have their State House offices.
“Praying for Gerald, Robert, John, Rebecca, Wendi and the entire Capital Gazette family,” read a card signed by Hogan.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), whose district includes Annapolis, stood outside his office, several feet from the memorial, and spoke emotionally about those killed. He said his daughter played soccer with Winters’s daughter.
“I know these people well,” Busch said. “They were part of the fabric of where we live.”
There was also a memorial created by residents, with flowers and handwritten notes, on the corner in front of the Capital’s office.
“This is our town. We are one big family,” one note began.