(TNS) — A shooter killed five people and wounded several more at The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Md., on Thursday, according to authorities and journalists at the publication, who were forced into the extraordinary and emotional duty of covering a tragedy in their own newsroom.
Officers responded to the offices of Capital Gazette Communications within a minute of receiving a report of an active shooter, Anne Arundel County police reported. Police arrested a man at the scene and took him in for interrogation, police said.
The shooter, who used a shotgun, is refusing to talk to investigators or give his name, and he was not carrying any identification, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told the Los Angeles Times, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
"He's not been particularly cooperative," County Executive Steve Schuh said in an interview with CNN. "Law enforcement does have a name" for the suspect, but officials haven't confirmed it.
After the shooting began, a young intern at the newspaper sent out a plea on Twitter: "Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us."
The first comprehensive details about the attack then came from Capital crime reporter Phil Davis in a series of tweets after he reached safety, while waiting to be interviewed by police.
"A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead," Davis tweeted. "Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can't say much more and don't want to declare anyone dead, but it's bad."
Davis added: "There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload."
In a subsequent interview with the Baltimore Sun, Davis said he didn't know why the gunman stopped shooting. And then he stopped to reflect on the violence he'd covered as a journalist, which had come to his own office.
"I'm a police reporter. I write about this stuff _ not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death _ all the time," Davis said. "But as much as I'm going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don't know until you're there and you feel helpless."
A photojournalist at the newspaper, Joshua McKerrow, was apparently out of the newsroom when the attack happened, but returned and photographed the scene outside as police swarmed the area.
"Police response for shooting in my newsroom," he tweeted.
A while later, he added a single word: "Heartbroken." McKerrow tweeted that a Friday edition of the paper would be published.
Other staffers tweeted the names of journalists who were safe, not naming those feared dead.
"Thank God I was not at the office when this horrible incident occurred," sports reporter Bill Wagner tweeted. "However, many of my colleagues and friends are not okay and that is solely where my thoughts are right now. Please do not attempt to contact me via text or phone call."
Journalists were last killed inside the U.S. in 2015, when a disgruntled television journalist killed two former colleagues during a live broadcast, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which tracks violence against journalists.
Seven journalists have been killed inside the U.S. since 1992, according to the organization.
Capital Gazette Communications is owned by Tronc _ the former parent company of the Los Angeles Times _ and publishes the Capital, the newspaper of record for Annapolis, and a separate newspaper called the Maryland Gazette. The newspapers publish under a joint website called the Capital Gazette.
Jimmy DeButts, an editor for the website, published a heartfelt tribute on Twitter about the craft of his fellow journalists, with a nod to the struggles of many local newspapers to continue working under tough economic conditions.
"There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community," DeButts tweeted. "We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment."
DeButts added: "We are 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."
Even in the worst of circumstances. CNBC journalist John Harwood went to high school with one of the newspaper's reporters, Pat Ferguson, and asked Ferguson's wife how the reporter was holding up.
Ferguson was safe, Harwood tweeted: He's charging his phone, trying to find colleagues and "putting out a paper."