Capital Gazette reporters Selene San Felice and Phil Davis, who were in the newsroom at the time of Thursday’s shooting which resulted in at least five deaths and several injuries, expressed their disgust tonight at being offered “thoughts and prayers,” which has become the meaningless platitude of choice for politicians like Donald Trump in the wake of senseless and preventable mass shootings.
“I’ve heard that President Trump has sent his prayers,” San Felice told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I’m not trying to make this political, but we need more than prayers. I appreciate the prayers, I was praying the entire time I was under that desk. I want your prayers but I want something else.”
San Felice said she went to school in Florida and reported on the Pulse shooting. “I remember being so upset hearing about the [Pulse] victims who were texting their families,” she said. “And there I was, sitting under a desk texting my parents and telling them that I loved them.”
“I don’t know what I want right now, but I’m gonna need more than a couple of days of news coverage and some thoughts and prayers, because our whole lives have been shattered,” she added. “So thanks for your prayers, but I couldn’t give a fuck about them if there’s nothing else.”
Reporter Phil Davis—who tweeted during the day that “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload”—expressed similar disgust at the sentiment.
“This is a situation where these are people who were working in an office, who were doing their jobs, who had no reason...to believe that someone like this would have a motive to come in and gun down employees,” Davis said.
“[To] Selene’s point about prayers, you’re right, I was praying, when he was reloading that shotgun that there weren’t going to be more bodies,” he said. “If we’re at a position in our society where all we can offer each other is prayers, then where are we? Where are we as a society, where people die, and that’s the end of that story?”
Police have identified the suspect as 38-year old Jarrod W. Ramos, who unsuccessfully sued the paper for defamation after a former reporter wrote an article about his guilty plea to a harassment charge in 2011. San Felice and Davis told Cooper that they thought that the shooter was targeting editors.
“Editors died,” San Felice said. “What happened here was very calculated. I think this person was going after editors.”
Three of the five killed were editors, one was a reporter, and another was a sales assistant.
CORRECTION, 12:08 a.m: This article previously referenced a tweet by CNN’s Brian Stelter that said four of the five killed were editors. Three were editors, one was a reporter, and one was a sales assistant.