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'Capital Gazette' Staffer Reacts To Deadly Newsroom Shooting


Let's pick up again with the latest news from Annapolis, Md., where a shooter opened fire today in the newsroom of a local paper, the Capital Gazette. Police now say it was a targeted attack and that the newspaper had received threats on social media. The shooter is in custody. Police say he used smoke grenades when entering the building. Here's Bill Krampf of the Anne Arundel County Police Department.


BILL KRAMPF: We are working on now securing his residence. He does live in the state of Maryland. We are in the process of securing that residence and preparing for search warrants.

KELLY: Authorities say five people are dead. Several more are seriously injured. Earlier, I spoke with John Van de Kamp. He is an opinion writer at the Capital Gazette, and he told me he was leaving his doctor's office when he heard the news of what had happened at his workplace.

JOHN VAN DE KAMP, BYLINE: I had just finished my appointment. I was coming out, and I saw more police cars and vehicles than you could imagine in a hundred years. We - of course we had to get home, so I had no idea what was going on, so I immediately called the county and said, what's happening? What's the police action? And they said there's an active shooter in the Capital Gazette offices.

Now, the Capital's a local paper. You would of course - everyone says this would never happen here. They cover state and local politics. We've just been through a primary election. They cover the Naval Academy, local sports, a lot of really good obituaries if, you know, you can pick that up and make sure you're not there. St. John's College is covered. There's an awful lot of things going on in the community that they focus on and do a very good job with.

KELLY: How many people work there around about?

DE KAMP: About 50 people work. My editor is Gerald Fischman for the editorial page. Rick Hutzell is the overall editor of the paper.

KELLY: It puts in perspective this number of five...


KELLY: ...Dead of a staff of 50.

DE KAMP: And their circulation's about 30,000. So...

KELLY: Have you been in touch with any of your colleagues, friends there since all this happened this afternoon?

DE KAMP: I've tried to get in touch with them. I have independent, unconfirmed information from a pretty good source that several of them that I know well are still living. But I can't take that further with you. I wish I could.

KELLY: I want to read you what I saw one colleague, one editor Jimmy DeButts was tweeting...

DE KAMP: Yeah.

KELLY: ...This afternoon. He wrote, we're there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand. We do all this to serve our community.

DE KAMP: Correct.

KELLY: It speaks to the community nature of this newspaper, which I should note has been all over this story this afternoon, constantly updating the website on what's going on...

DE KAMP: Sure.

KELLY: ...Even within the newsroom.

DE KAMP: Jimmy's our community editor. He does a fantastic job. The paper's a historic paper. It goes back to Anne and Jonas Green and the days of freedom of the press in colonial days in Annapolis. It's over 200 years old. So you have the history. You have the pride. And you have - Jimmy's right in the middle of bringing all of this together, as are the editor Rick and Gerald, my editor. It's a great place to work, great people. And they do a great job. And unfortunately they're victims of this.

KELLY: In the few seconds we have left, how long have you worked there?

DE KAMP: About four years. I was on their editorial board as a member of the community. And then I've been writing opinion columns for them ever since.

KELLY: And to your knowledge, was there anything unusual happening there today?

DE KAMP: No, no. I have no idea why, no. Usually with these things - outliers do awful things. I have no idea what would have caused it.

KELLY: Yeah. That's John Van de Kamp. He writes for the Capital Gazette's opinion section. John, I want to say thank you very much for taking the time on what I know is a tough afternoon there. Thank you.

DE KAMP: Thank you, Mary Louise. I'd ask for prayers from you and your listeners for these folks just so they can deal with this awful thing and move on with their lives. Thank you again.

KELLY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.