During the devastating attack on a Maryland newspaper office on June 28, beleaguered employees took to social media to ask for help and at the same time deliver information about the shooting.
News of the gunfire at the Capital Gazette office in Annapolis, Maryland broke out with a tweet sent at 2:43 p.m. from Anthony Messenger, an intern for the newspaper. Messenger wrote “Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us.”
Despite the chaos, Messenger was able to include the exact location of the newsroom where the attack was taking place.
The Capital Gazette’s crime and courts reporter Phil Davis also delivered information about the attack on the social media channel later in the day, saying “single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead.” He also revealed information about the shooter, saying he “shot through the glass door to the office.”
In another tweet, Davis described the reloading sound he heard from the gunman, with the authorities later on confirming that the attacker had used a shotgun.
The shooter killed four journalists and a staffer before police arrived on the scene and arrested the suspect. Two other people were reported injured.
The fatalities included Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith. Those who were injured were identified to be Rachael Pacella, a reporter who covers education, and Janel Cooley, a sales representative.
Employees of the newspaper described how they tried to hide during the attack by crouching beneath their desks.
Anne Arundel County’s acting Police Chief William Krampf described the event as a “targeted attack” wherein the shooter looked for his victims. “This person was prepared today to come in. He was prepared to shoot people.”
The suspect, a man in his late 30s, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder. He was said to have had a long and bitter history with the newspaper which included a lawsuit and a long period of harassment of its journalists, which was also chronicled on social media. The suspect repeatedly lambasted the paper’s editors on Twitter, and sent out a tweet on the day of the attack.
While active shooting situations may be hard to predict, quick and clear thinking can increase your chances of survival. Experts also advise preparing for the worst, no matter how unlikely it may seem.