No, not another active shooter! No, not in that newsroom!

This time in Annapolis, Md.

The red-lined bulletin popped up on my work monitor.

Another active shooter in our midst. Horrifying.

My eyes went to sketchy The Washington Post details. I refuse to let these occurrences escape my attention no matter their increasing frequency. How very horrifying.

Shots fired at newspaper in Annapolis, Md.

They all hurt, yes. Every time somebody grabs a gun and pulls that trigger in a crowd, we all should scream bloody murder in reaction.

This one, for me …

Back in the early 1980s, I dated a woman who worked for that Annapolis newspaper. We’d been classmates at the University of Maryland, worked together at the campus daily, decided to take the friendship further a few years after graduation.

She’s returned from working at a paper in Pennsylvania to an editor’s position in the features department at the daily in the capital city of Maryland. Great job. She was thrilled. I was sports editor for a small daily in suburban Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., some 35 miles or so from Annapolis. We’d drive back and forth. I met her colleagues from that paper, got to know Annapolis some, read those pages with interest. The paper and the city held a spot in my heart, even after I moved to Syracuse and its big daily and she moved to Seattle and its even bigger daily.

So more than 35 years later, this active shooter news hurts so specifically.

Then, later in the night comes a call from another news business friend, David Elfin, who lives down there. He drops a name we have in common, John McNamara, a man who followed shortly after my years at the U of Maryland and then at that suburban Maryland newspaper, too.

I hadn’t realized that nice, kind man had worked at the Annapolis paper. Notice my use of the past tense. Damn. David tells me that his grapevine has revealed that our common friend was one of those killed by the senseless violence. Damn! Not him! Not mild-mannered, hard-working John McNamara.

Here’s how a Baltimore Sun reporter so touchingly personalizes John’s touch on his craft and the life he chose.

Later, on the news, came another name from my past as they listed the victims. I’d worked with Gerald Fischman during my years on the U of Maryland’s daily. He was a cherished copy editor who hardly said a word in the newsroom, but was known for his world of knowledge about, well, everything for just about every story.

Here’s what a Sun reporter related about Gerald’s interesting eye on life.

This makes me so sad.

This latest active shooter would rake my insides about any newsroom, really, what with what I did to make my living for most of my life. Add the way the POTUS sends out so many hateful messages with such an aggressive stance against the mainstream media and my mood goes further south. No specifics have come out yet. The suspect taken into custody for this newsroom shooting wouldn’t talk. Later news outlets reported that he held a grudge against the Annapolis paper for several years. But still I think that if somebody unbalanced hears and believes enough attacks on the free press …

To me, a newsroom is a place where independent thinkers are not only welcomed, but encouraged. Hell, they’re necessary to the process of spreading news and ideas to readers, equally and fairly.

Yes, this makes me so mad.

At my job at the library, the director recently invited two Village of Liverpool police officers to our monthly staff meeting, where they conducted their Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events training session for all of us staffers. You bet I paid great attention. You never know where terror will show up. This makes me sad and mad. And as prepared as one can be against such horrors.

Short course:

The moment you hear something’s not right, form a plan that will get you out of the building and as far away from that noise as possible. If you can’t get out without crossing paths with a shooter, use whatever you find in that room to make entrance into that room difficult. If the shooter gets into the room, band together and fight back with everything you’ve got.

Even that knowledge only goes as far as your luck holds out if the wrong person walks into your life.

21 thoughts on “No, not another active shooter! No, not in that newsroom!

  1. i am so sorry to read this, mark. i watched in horror yesterday as this splashed upon the news. i cannot bring myself to ‘like’ this post, as well-written and heartfelt as it is. all i feel angry and sad. i agree with all that you’ve said here, and am so sorry that this has you so personally and deeply, in a place that has so many connections to your life.


    • Oh, Jim, my former cubby mate at the big daily. You know, these yellow bellies can ruin so many lives without a second thought, remorse or a sane thought. Hard to do without a gun in hand, for sure.


  2. You wrote it so well. A gift with words, truly. I’m so sorry this one hit so close to home and struck your heart. The world just does not make sense in these ways. Waste. Such a waste. And too much loss.


  3. When I heard about that shooting, Mark, I thought of you and how this one would probably touch you more personally. I had no idea that you would actually know people who had been killed. I am so sorry for your losses and for our country’s continuing losses to gun violence. Love to you, Ann


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