Newsroom Massacre Victim 'Charged' the Gunman to Protect Others, 'Doubtlessly Saving Lives'

Before she died in the Maryland newsroom mass shooting late last month, Wendi Winters acted quickly to save others.

“My mom picked up her trash can and her recycling bin and she charged at the coward who shot her in the chest as she rushed him, slowing him down and giving the police time to arrive, doubtlessly saving lives,” her son, Phoenix Geimer, said Saturday at a memorial for the journalist who was among five employees killed in the June 28 attack at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, reports local TV station WBAL.

“We are thankful for how amazingly quickly the police arrived, but nothing could be fast enough for her or her co-workers,” Geimer said of his mother, who was mourned not just as a dedicated reporter but as a civic volunteer who donated gallons of life-saving blood during her lifetime, according to The Washington Post.

Of Winters’ quick thinking during the mass shooting, her son said, “In that instant of extraordinary courage, she gave her heart, she gave her last breath and she gave her final eight pints of blood for the defense of the free press and the defense of her family at the Capital.”

“She died fighting for what she believed in,” Geimer added, according to the Post. “My mom is an American hero, and we all have so much to live up to.”

More than 700 people gathered at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts to celebrate the life of Winters, 65, whose lively and prolific work as a features writer — among her contributions over more than two decades as a reporter and editor were her “Teen of the Week” columns — echoed her personal commitment to service and the public, mourners said.

“To be Wendi is to take everything you can possibly offer the world and to pour it into your kids and your community,” her 20-year-old daughter, Summerleigh Geimer, said at the memorial. “To be Wendi is to have a story for every occasion.”

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Winters’ son described his mother’s last actions based upon accounts from those inside the newsroom, where six of 11 people who were there survived after a gunman with a documented grudge against the paper shot through the glass doors outside and then kept firing with his pump-action shotgun.

Killed along with Winters, a mom of four who also volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, were assistant editor and features columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; editorial writer Gerald Fischman, 61; sports reporter and editor John McNamara, 56; and 34-year-old sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

Suspect Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, has been charged with the five murders and has declined to be interviewed by investigators, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Ramos was ordered held without bail and has not yet entered a plea. He is scheduled to return to court on July 24. His attorney did not return a call seeking comment.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley spoke at Winters’ memorial and said she “covered the stories that told our lives,” the Post reports.

Her son said she donated so much blood that it’s “almost a guarantee” at least one person who filled the crowded memorial service was a recipient.

One after another, mourners praised Winter’s interest in the lives of others. One former “Teen of the Week,” DaJuan Gray, said Winters had helped him organize a Black Lives Matter march. The Rev. John T. Crestwell Jr. said Winters had helped him secure a job at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis.

“As you can see when looking around, it’s standing room only,” Crestwell said. “Wendi touched a lot of lives.”

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