Attacked newsroom: Pulitzer commemorated with somber silence
ANNAPOLIS- The Associated Press
Capital Gazette staff members stayed silent and somberly exchanged hugs on April 15 when the Maryland newspaper won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in its newsroom.
Before the announcement, newspaper employees gathered in their newsroom to remember the five staffers who were shot and killed last June in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.
"It's definitely bittersweet," said reporter Chase Cook. "Since it's so connected to something so tragic, there was no euphoric pop-off of excitement."
The Capital Gazette, based in the Maryland state capital of Annapolis, published on schedule the day after the shooting attack. The man charged in the attack had a longstanding grudge against the newspaper.
Capital Gazette editor Rick Hutzell said the paper had submitted entries in five categories, including a joint entry with The Baltimore Sun for breaking news. Although the Capital Gazette didn't win in any of the five categories, the Pulitzer board awarded the citation with an extraordinary $100,000 grant to further its journalism.
The Pulitzer board said the citation honors the journalists, staff and editorial board of the newspaper "for their courageous response to the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history in their newsroom" and for an "unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief."
Jarrod Ramos, the man charged in the newsroom shooting, had a history of harassing the newspaper's journalists. He filed a lawsuit against the paper in 2012, alleging he was defamed in an article about his conviction in a criminal harassment case in 2011. The suit was dismissed as groundless.
The rampage last June began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance to the open newsroom. Journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places, describing agonizing minutes of terror as they heard the gunman's footsteps and repeated blasts of the weapon. County police said they captured Ramos hiding under a desk. Authorities say he did not exchange fire with police.