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Couldn't Believe Shooting Was Happening In Our Town, Annapolis Mayor Says

NOEL KING, HOST:

Residents of Annapolis, Md., are trying to make sense of a shooting that left five people dead yesterday. A gunman attacked the Capital Gazette. That's a community newspaper publisher. Some of the reporters, like Selene San Felice, survived by hiding in the newsroom until the shooting was over. She told CNN's Anderson Cooper yesterday that it reminded her of another mass shooting she covered at a Florida nightclub.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ANDERSON COOPER 360")

SELENE SAN FELICE: I reported on Pulse when Pulse happened. I went to school in Florida, and I remember being so upset hearing about the victims who were texting their families. And there I was, sitting under a desk, texting my parents, telling them that I loved them.

KING: We're joined now by Gavin Buckley. He is the mayor of Annapolis, Md., and a Democrat.

Mayor Buckley, welcome to MORNING EDITION.

GAVIN BUCKLEY: Good morning.

KING: This must be a very difficult time for you and for your community. What are you hearing from people?

BUCKLEY: So we're a small town, everybody knows each other. Our population's about 38,000. We sit in the county that is about 500,000. We know these journalists. We know the first responders that went in to take down the shooter. So, you know, we are all reeling. We're all very familiar with that newsroom. We can't imagine what it must have been like for those guys to not have any way to run - just a desk and, you know, glass partitions.

KING: It's notable that this is a local paper, they cover the local community. I wonder, what can you tell us about the publisher, Capital Gazette, and what these journalists mean to people there?

BUCKLEY: So I was speaking to the editor of the Capital 20 minutes before it happened...

KING: Wow.

BUCKLEY: ...at city hall. And he was in Ocean City. So, he's always there. This guy works crazy hard. These journalists are like his family.

And then I got a call. I was in the office. The receptionist came in and said, we've got an issue at the capital. We thought it was at the state capital, only to find that it was at the Capital newspaper, which was 10 minutes down the road. And so we couldn't believe that it was happening in our town. And it's still very surreal.

KING: Annapolis, as you point out, is the capital of the state of Maryland. There are a lot of historical sites, a lot of government buildings, the state house is there. Do you think this will change security around the city as we move forward?

BUCKLEY: I mean, you're seeing the trends all over the city. It's just frustrating to me that this is becoming the new normal, that we are becoming desensitized to this kind of death and destruction. I don't know what's happened to our humanity. We are polarized as a country. We have to stop hating one another just because we have a different opinion.

This paper is not some left-wing paper. It's not some right-wing paper. It's a paper that reports on local news. It's one of the oldest ones in the country. It does good journalism, but it covers, you know, your kids sports games. It covers, you know, cats stuck up a tree as well as the other things. There's no reason that anyone should be offended by this publication.

KING: A couple of months ago, you spoke at your town's March for Our Lives rally, which was protesting gun violence, calling for stricter gun laws. I wondered, now that this has touched your own community, do you think that there is a political response that's appropriate, or is this a situation where it is just too soon?

BUCKLEY: I think we have to hold politicians accountable. You know, if you - the NRA has - every organization in life, every person in life has to compromise somewhere. If there is not one millimeter of compromise in your organization, then you're not a legitimate organization. And it's not just gun control. We need to talk about mental health. We need to bring communities together. People need to talk to one another and get out of their screens.

So, you know, there has to be multiple responses. But this can't just be another statistic and then, you know, next week, we move on to the same thing. The journalist that spoke on the news yesterday talked about how it was nice that people gave them praise, but they want more.

KING: What was notable, in fact, that those journalists did put out a newspaper today. You know, they did their jobs in spite of all of this. And I wonder, to that end, what are the city's plans for this weekend or next week to honor these folks?

BUCKLEY: You know, I just have to say - about the bravery of the journalists and how hard they work and how they make no money, but they do it because they love journalism. And so when they go - to school, I'm sure that they don't think that part of their routine is going to be, you know, protecting their lives, as teachers have to do these days. And so, you know, I just have to commend them. We will have a vigil at City Dock tonight.

We also have to commend the first responders from the city of Annapolis that got on the scene within 90 seconds and made the shooter drop his weapon. There would have been more devastation. We had a drill a week beforehand, and that drill played a big part in saving lives yesterday.

KING: Gavin Buckley is the mayor of Annapolis, Md.

Mr. Mayor, thank you.

BUCKLEY: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.