Maryland Reporter And OU Grad Speaks About Newsroom Shooting
ANNAPOLIS, Md - Chase Cook, a reporter at the Capital Gazette, says it's been nearly two weeks since a gunman opened fire on his newsroom.
He considers it a blessing that he's alive.
Cook wasn't in the office when shots were fired, but rushed to work moments after to cover the news of his slain co-workers.
“We were trying to comprehend what was happening. We knew who had died, but we had not confirmed it all,” says Cook.
Officers soon confirmed the victims’ names, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
Cook says his co-workers were killed after the shooter opened fire, blasting through the glass doors of the building.
A separate exit had also been purposefully barricaded, and no one could get out.
“There are 31 people on staff, and nine of them are part time. So, 20 percent of our staff died on that Thursday,” Cook says.
According to witnesses, one of the victims, Wendi Winters, tried to defend her co-workers.
Cook says Winters had previously taken an active shooter class.
Officers reportedly warned survivors not to look around as they exited the newsroom.
Wendi and others lie on the floor.
“Everybody had to step over Wendi Winters because she charged the gunmen with a recycling bin, like a hero,” Cook says.
Along with brave and bold surviving co-workers, Cook was able to publish information almost instantly.
One simple tweet showed strength in moments of confusion and grief.
Cook tweeted, "I can tell you this: we are putting out a damn paper tomorrow."
I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.— Chase Cook (@chaseacook) June 28, 2018
“I wrote that for myself in kind of a selfish way of saying like, we are going to do this. We are going to do a thing. But, I also felt that that's what Rob would want. That's what Wendi would want, Gerald, John and Rebecca…because the purpose of this persons mission was to silence us, to stop us from what we were doing. I don't think for a second we could let that happen,” says Cook.
In later articles, he quotes a co-worker:
"...These homicides cannot become another forgotten fact."
Cook says by using terms like "The media" and "fake news" journalist have been dehumanized in a very public way.
Overall, he's calling for a solution to end mass gun violence.
He wants to have a civil discussion involving people from every background.
“If we really sit back on our heels and go well, evil can't be stopped and there is nothing we can do. Then we have given up and that's crazy that's not what America does. It does not give up,” Cook says.
Jarrod Ramos, the accused shooter, will be in court again later this month.
Staffers say he filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, but that suit was thrown out by a judge.
Cook says he will cover Ramos's murder trial.
Later this fall, Cook says he will travel back to Oklahoma as he has been asked to speak at his alma mater.
He says while he does not have the answer to stop mass shootings, he will demand answers from those who have the power to end the violence.