Jewish writer among 5 killed in Maryland newspaper shooting

Gerald Fischman was an editorial page editor who was respected by his colleagues. (The Baltimore Sun Media Group/Facebook)Gerald Fischman was an editorial page editor who was respected by his colleagues. (The Baltimore Sun Media Group/Facebook)

Gerald Fischman was an editorial page editor who was respected by his colleagues. (The Baltimore Sun Media Group/Facebook)

(JTA) – One of the five victims killed in a shooting at a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland was Jewish.

Gerald Fischman, 61, was the editorial page editor at the Capital Gazette. He was killed Thursday along with sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34, editor Rob Hiassen, 59, reporter and editor John McNamara, 56, and reporter Wendi Winters, 65.

Police said the attack was carried out by a shooter who had been the subject of critical coverage in the paper. They arrested Jarrod W. Ramos, a 38-year-old from Laurel, Maryland. He was charged with five counts of murder, the Baltimore Sun reported. The report did not say how Ramos pleaded.

Fischman, who worked on the paper since 1992, was known for his annual editorial on Christmas, despite the fact that he was Jewish, the Sun reported. Colleagues described him as a quiet, committed professional, who was humorous, extremely knowledgeable and polite. He wore a V-neck cardigan at all times, regardless of temperature, and would often work a midnight to 5 am shift. Colleagues would often arrive in the morning to find Post-its from Fischman on their desks asking them to fact-check his editorials.

“He was kind of a mysterious guy,” reporter Joshua Stewart told the Sun. “He wasn’t social, and this was the most interaction we had with him. It was a testament to his work.”

The Sun also said that he married late in life, to a Mongolian opera singer he had met online. At an awards event shortly after he wed – Fischman won many regional prizes for his work – he was asked how he met his wife.

“I typed ‘Mongolian opera singer’ into a dating site,” he replied.

Ramos’ dispute with the Capital Gazette began in 2011 when a columnist wrote about a criminal harassment case against him. He brought a defamation suit against the columnist and the organization’s editor and publisher. A court ruled in the Capital Gazette’s favour, and an appeals court upheld the ruling.

Police said 170 people were inside the Capital Gazette’s building during the attack. Staffers scrambled to find cover from the bullets, some diving behind desks, witnesses said. At least three people sustained serious injuries in the shooting, Radio WMFE reported.

Rebecca Smith, the 34-year-old sales assistant, “was kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed. She seemed to really enjoy to be working in the media business,” her boss, Marty Padden, told the Sun. She lived with her fiancé in eastern Baltimore County and actively posted images documenting her social life.

Hiassen’s wife, Maria, told NBC that her late husband “loved being a dad, an editor who helped shape young talent, and a creative writer and humorist.” The couple had three children together.

McNamara was a veteran reporter and editor. On his LinkedIn page, he described himself as a beat reporter for University of Maryland athletics and the Orioles minor league system. He also helped put together the daily sports section.

Winters “was in many ways the best part of the newspaper in that she cared so much about the city,” said former Capital Gazette editor Steve Gunn. Winters worked as community reporter for the paper. She had four children.


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