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‘I Thought I Was Going To Die.’ Capital Gazette Intern Describes Chaos During Deadly Newsroom Shooting

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

An intern who started working at the Capital Gazette a month ago described the chaos that unfolded in the newsroom Thursday when a shooter opened fire and killed five people.

Anthony Messenger, whose tweet asking for help amid the shooting went viral, said he’s still trying to process the mayhem that ensued when suspected shooter Jarrod W. Ramos entered the Capital Gazette newsroom with a loaded shotgun and smoke grenades, killing five of his colleagues.

“That’s never something that crossed my mind when I took the internship — that I may see people die,” Messenger, a college senior, said Friday on the Today Show. “We had to pass two bodies of our colleagues, which was something that no one should have to stomach.”

Messenger also said the tweet that went viral was not actually written by him, but by his colleague Selene San Felice. He had given her his phone so she could text her family and after she messaged her mom, Messenger said she sent the tweet that included the newspaper’s address. “It’s a testament to her self awareness in that moment,” he said of her decision to send the tweet.

“I am deeply appreciative of the well wishes my co-workers and I received from you all today,” he tweeted after the attack. “My thoughts and prayers go out to my colleagues and their families.”

Five people were killed and several were injured in the newsroom shooting in Annapolis, Maryland. All the victims were employees of the Capital Gazette. They were identified as Rob Hiaasen, 59, an editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, 65, a local news reporter and community columnist; John McNamara, 56, an editor and sports reporter; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

Law enforcement officials said the attack was targeted, and that the suspect had a history of conflict with the newspaper.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said William Krampf, acting police chief of Anne Arundel. “He looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level.”

Ramos had previously attempted to sue the Gazette in 2012 for defamation, the New York Times reported, over a 2011 story titled “Jarrod wants to be your friend,” which detailed a harassment lawsuit against Ramos. The article details the “year long nightmare” undergone by an old high school classmate of Ramos after he sent her a Facebook friend request. “That sparked months of emails,” the article says, “in which Ramos alternately asked for help, called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself.”

The suit ended with Ramos pleading guilty and being sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation and court-ordered counseling.

Correction: June 29

The original version of this story misstated the name of the reporter who sent the viral tweet. It is Selene San Felice, not Celine San Feliz.

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Write to Billy Perrigo at billy.perrigo@time.com