By Sean Chen
Former John S. Knight Journalism Fellow Robert Hiaasen died in the Thursday shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Hiaasen, an editor at the newspaper, was one of at least five killed by the gunman, who is now in custody.
Hiaasen was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford for the 2003-04 academic year, having arrived after working as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and The Palm Beach Post. Interested in screenwriting and narrative journalism, he would later go on to join the Capital Gazette as an assistant editor. Hiaasen had recently started teaching reporting at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
At around 2:40 p.m. on June 28, Annapolis police received reports of an active shooter at the Capital Gazette building. The suspect, 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos, allegedly opened fire on people in the Gazette’s first floor offices with a shotgun.
Four people were killed on the spot, while one more died en route to the hospital. Several others were wounded in the shooting, which Anne Arundel County Deputy Policy Chief William Krampf called a “targeted attack.”
Ramos is said to have had a feud with the paper over its coverage of his guilty plea to a criminal harassment case in 2011. As of Thursday night, he is under interrogation.
“[Robert] had a special insight into people’s lives and their character,” former Capital Gazette editor Tom Marquart told the Baltimore Sun. “What Rob really brought to the game was his great writing ability and sense of humor.”
In a phone call with the Associated Press, Hiaasen’s brother Carl Hiaasen said that his family “was devastated beyond words.”
Contact Sean Chen at kxsean ‘at’ stanford.edu.