US President Donald Trump, speaking one day after a gunman murdered five people at a Maryland newspaper, said Friday that journalists should be able to work “free from the fear” of being attacked.
Trump, speaking at a White House event, made a point of addressing “the horrific shooting that took place yesterday at the Capital Gazette newsroom” in Annapolis, Maryland.
“This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief. Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job,” Trump said.
The five victims of the shooting Thursday at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland were described by colleagues as talented and knowledgeable local journalists and staff members who were committed to their work.
Here are their profiles:
– Rob Hiaasen, 59 –
A wry and observant writer and editor and the brother of best-selling author Carl Hiaasen, he surprised colleagues a few years ago when he gave up his much-beloved feature writing to become an assistant editor at the Capital Gazette.
But as his wife, Maria, told the paper — her 58th birthday fell on the day of her husband’s death — “he loved helping those young writers.”
Hiaasen joined The Baltimore Sun in 1993, then moved to the Capital Gazette in 2010, where co-workers said he was a generous and dedicated mentor. “He loved that newsroom,” his brother Carl told the Washington Post. “And he loved the idea of hometown, old-fashioned journalism.”
– Gerald Fischman, 61 –
A long-time editorial page editor, Fischman was an award-winning, 26-year veteran of the paper. Colleagues saw him as a shy but brilliant man, a fount of local and political arcana, and “the conscience and voice of the (paper),” whose editorials could be scathing but were “always exacting.”
Omnipresent in the newsroom — even spending nights there, and often communicating through Post-It notes found on desks the next morning — he was seen as a bit of a loner.
Fischman stunned his co-workers when he announced late in life that he was marrying an opera singer from Mongolia. Asked how they met, he said with a straight face, “I typed ‘Mongolian opera singer’ into a dating site.” He would not elaborate.
– John McNamara, 56 –
A sportswriter, he was known for his versatility, invaluable in a small-city newsroom. “He could write. He could edit. He could design pages. He was just a jack of all trades and a fantastic person,” former Capital Gazette sports editor Gerry Jackson told the paper.
McNamara had written two books about sports at the University of Maryland and was working on another about great Washington basketball players. Sports-writing, he said, was his dream job.
A movie buff, he wrote on Facebook recently about two biopics he had seen, one about kids’ TV host Mr Rogers and the other on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “In these troubled times, when the forces of darkness seem to have gained the upper hand, it’s nice to be reminded that there is still justice and kindness in the world.”
– Wendi Winters, 65 –
A prolific writer who began her career in fashion and public relations in New York, Winters had worked part-time for the Capital Gazette for years covering community events before being hired full-time in 2013 and becoming an editor in 2016.
Her columns featured local youth, highlighted little-known local attractions and covered the area arts scene. A self-described “proud navy mother,” she often covered military angles in Annapolis, home to the US Naval Academy.
“Everyone in the city knew Wendi Winters,” Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley told the Washington Post.
“She was at every event.”
– Rebecca Smith, 34 –
A sales assistant at the Capital Gazette, Smith was a recent hire. She had worked previously for a health care organization.
“She was the absolute most beautiful person,” a friend, Kelli Peleska, told the newspaper. “The biggest heart and a great loss to this world.”
At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.
A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a “gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.”
“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” Davis said.
“There are five fatalities that we know of. There’re several other persons that are gravely injured,” acting police chief of Anne Arundel county Bill Krampf told a news conference in the city, capital of the state of Maryland.
Steve Schuhn, county executive, said a suspect was in custody and was being interviewed by detectives.
Lieutenant Ryan Frashure, a police spokesman, earlier told reporters police were “making sure there’s no other people that are suspects or helped the individual” and were combing the four-story office building for bombs.
“We’re doing our very best to get the building secure,” he added.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and tweeted a message of support.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene,” he wrote.
“Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said. “Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community.”
Several other lawmakers weighed in, calling for an end to gun violence.
“My heart is with the families, friends and loved ones of the victims as we learn more about this terrible situation,” Chris Van Hollen, the state’s junior senator said. “We must unite to end the violence.”
Rash of violence
A recent study found that Americans own 40 percent of the world’s firearms despite accounting for only four percent of the global population.
Of the 857 million guns owned by civilians, 393 million are in the United States — more than all of the firearms held by ordinary citizens in the other top 25 countries combined, according to the Small Arms Survey.
Advocates of tougher gun laws have stepped up their efforts in the wake of numerous school shootings this year, including the killing of 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school in February and the killing of 10 people at a Texas high school in May.
So far the results have been relatively modest. Florida has raised the legal age to buy firearms from 18 to 21, while Texas Governor Greg Abbott focused on mental health and improving school safety in his list of recommendations following the Santa Fe shooting in the rural southeast of his state.
But he also called for requiring gun owners to report lost firearms and for allowing law enforcement to temporarily take away guns from people determined by courts to be “potentially dangerous” to themselves or others.
Barely a month after a shooting that left at least 17 students and teachers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School dead in Florida, another shooting has occurred at Maryland high school.
Officials say the facility has been locked down as security operatives battle to put the situation under control.
The unfortunate shooting took place at a high school in the eastern US state of Maryland on Tuesday, leaving several people injured just days before a nationwide student-organized march against school violence.
Three people were shot in the incident at Great Mills High School, located about a 90-minute drive southeast of the US capital Washington, according to a county official quoted by The Baltimore Sun.
St. Mary’s County Public Schools said on its website that the school was on lockdown and the incident had been “contained” but provided no further details.
Law enforcement was on the scene.
“It happened really quickly, right after school started” after 8:00 am (1200 GMT), Jonathan Freese, a student at the school, told CNN.
“The police came and responded really quickly,” Freese said. “They had a lot of officers respond.”
“Right now, the police are going through classrooms,” he said. “Soon we are going to be escorted from the school.”
The Great Mills incident comes about five weeks after a shooting at a Florida high school left 14 students and three adult staff members dead.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School launched a grassroots campaign for gun control following the shooting.
They have organized an event on Saturday called “March For Our Lives,” which is expected to turn out large crowds in US cities, with the main event in Washington.
Emma Gonzalez, a Stoneman Douglas student, tweeted her support Tuesday for her peers at Great Mills.
“We are Here for you, students of Great Mills,” Gonzalez said. “Together we can stop this from ever happening again.”
Under the banner #ENOUGH, tens of thousands of US high school students walked out of classrooms around the country on March 14 to protest gun violence.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan pledged to provide assistance.
“Our prayers are with students, school personnel and first responders,” Hogan said in a tweet.
US President-elect, Donald Trump has made a fresh assault on America’s intelligence community.
He said on Twitter that an intelligence briefing he was due to receive on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election – which is said to have benefited Mr Trump – had been delayed.
It said: “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”
But US intelligence officials insisted there had been no delay in the briefing schedule.
Several US agencies including the FBI and the CIA believe Russia directed hacks against the Democratic Party and the campaign of its presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, releasing embarrassing information through WikiLeaks and other outlets to help Mr Trump win the election.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” Mr Obama said, claiming the extent of data theft and cyber-attacks uncovered “could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government”.
The Kwara State Executive Council has approved the construction of a three-phased diamond split underpass at the Gerin Alimi roundabout in Ilorin, the state capital as part of efforts to ease traffic congestion in the area.
Briefing journalists after the State Executive Council meeting, the Commissioner for Works and Transport, Aro Yahaya, said that the project is expected to be completed in 18 months and will be the third in the country.
The Geri Alimi area is the first contact for anyone visiting Ilorin from other states and usually gets busy especially in the morning and evening thereby causing traffic holdups for hours.
Aro Yahaya, while briefing journalists on the need for the project, explained that when completed, it would not only ease traffic but add to the aesthetic of the area as it is expected to be an engineering masterpiece and architectural beauty.
He added that the first phase of the project will cost N2.9 billion, and the funding would be from the 10 billion Naira the state government is sourcing from the bond market.
The design of the underpass will be the third in the country as they only exist in Mabushi in Abuja and Maryland in Lagos.
In a graphical demonstration of how the project would look like when completed, the contractor handling the project and Managing Director of Bal Engineering Limited, Bashir Lawal, explained that Close Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) and a security post would be provided to provide adequate security in and around the interchange.
Lawal noted that the project would provide aesthetic and architectural beauty to the area and ease human and vehicular movements.
Also speaking at the briefing, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mahmoud Ajeigbe, said that the council has approved the contributory pension scheme for civil servants who joined the civil service from 1987 to date while those employed before the date would remain under the current scheme.
Mahmoud explained that the approval was sequel to the realization that the revenue base of the state could no longer sustain the old pension scheme.
New York lifted a travel ban and mass transit started getting back to normal on Sunday after a near-record blizzard in the U.S. Northeast.
Washington, however, remained at a standstill following storms that killed at least 19 people across the country.
Some 7,000 flights were cancelled during the weekend, with forecast that the disruption would continue during the week.
The storm was the second-biggest in New York City history, with 26.8 inches (68 cm) of snow in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, just shy of the record 26.9 inches (68 cm) set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.
Thirteen people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia on Saturday. One person died in Maryland and three in New York while shoveling snow. Two died of hypothermia in Virginia, officials said.
The heaviest fall was recorded in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, which had at least 103cm of snow.
At least 85 million people have been affected by the storm, dubbed Snowmageddon and Snowzilla on social media, while more than 200,000 people are experiencing power outages.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday would be a major clean-up day. He urged residents to stay off streets so city crews could clear roads.
“We still have some areas that we have to do a lot more work on. But we’ve come through it pretty well,” he said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous.”
“The snow pile is going to be with us for a while, but I think we’ll be in good shape in the next 24 hours,” de Blasio said.
After the storm moved out into the Atlantic Ocean, much of the Northeast was expected to see a mix of sun and clouds on Sunday with temperatures just above freezing.
New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted a travel ban on New York City-area roads and on Long Island at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Sunday. A state of emergency declared by Cuomo was still in place.
Most bus and subway services operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were up and running again by 9 a.m. (1400 GMT), officials said, and the agency was working on restoring full service on Sunday.
The Metro-North rail line, which serves suburbs north and east of New York City, expected to have commuter train service running into and out of New York by 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Sunday. A spokeswoman for the New York Stock Exchange said the market planned to open as usual on Monday.
About 75 million people in the United States have been warned to stay at home as a massive blizzard bringing more than two feet of snow and fierce winds is advancing up the US east coast.
Reports said that the nation’s capital, Washington, could lie under a record 30 inches of snow by the time the storm passes on Sunday.
Eight people had been killed, six states had declared states of emergency, and thousands of flights had been cancelled.
The weather system is affecting a large part of the country, from Arkansas in the south to Massachusetts in the north-east.
Extremely Dangerous Storm
On Friday afternoon, as the first snow fell in Washington, the National Weather Service said it could be one of the worst storms in the city’s history.
The BBC reports that residents in the capital and surrounding suburbs in Virginia and Maryland have been warned the snowfall could eclipse the district’s record of 28in that fell during a two-day period in 1922.
As the weather system approached the country’s most populous city, New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, urged residents to be ready.
New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, returned from the campaign trail in New Hampshire to take charge of snow preparation.
Catholics in Washington, Baltimore, and Delaware were told by archdiocese officials that missing Mass this Sunday was excusable given the terrible conditions.
National Weather Service Director, Louis Uccellini, said the system had “the potential of being an extremely dangerous storm that could affect over 50 million people”.