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Healing After Tragedy: An Annapolis Church’s Hope for a Grieving Community


The sounds of song and prayer filled the air at the Bay Area Community Church Friday night.

Congregants and members of the Annapolis, Maryland community gathered there to remember the five lives taken by a gunman at the Capital Gazette newspaper the day before.

“This is an opportunity for us as a community of faith to come, to pray, to grieve together and to ask the Lord, in a way that only He can do, to turn tragedy into triumph,“ said lead pastor Greg St. Cyr.

The members prayed for each of the victims, Robert Hiaasen, 59, Gerald Fischman, 61, John McNamara, 56, Rebecca Smith, 34, and Wendi Winters, 65, by name.

They also prayed for their families, law enforcement, and government officials.

Colleen Back, a church member, says it’s an important time to pray for healing.

“Healing for the community, healing for the nation and for the victim’s families so that their hearts wouldn’t be hardened against the Lord and go to a place of blaming God,” Back told CBN News.

"I want to pray against fear, that people don't succumb to a spirit of fear," said Back.

A ‘Philosophical and Spiritual Discussion’

Maryland State Senator Ed Reilly also attended the prayer vigil.

“When a tragedy occurs in our community like it did in Annapolis, people have a need to come together,” Reilly told CBN News.

Reilly said he attended partly because he wanted the community to know there are elected officials who are engaged on a spiritual level as well.

“I felt the need to come to be part of a community of healing. A community of sharing our faith and our love of God,” said Reilly.

Reilly believes it’s time for the nation to have some difficult conversations.

“We need to have a discussion, philosophical and spiritual discussions of our nation, and what’s going on and the tragedies that are occurring. How do we find that balance between individual rights and the protection of society and the treatment of people with mental illness?” he probed.

“I’m a Second Amendment guy, but we have to find a way to protect society,” said Reilly particularly when it comes to gun ownership by individuals with a history of mental illness. 

A Look at the Shooter

Meanwhile, the suspected shooter, Jarrod Ramos, 38, appeared before a judge via video feed Friday.

Ramos is accused of storming the Capital Gazette Newspaper office with a shotgun, killing five and injuring several others.

The former government employee had been in a long-standing feud with the paper over a story they’d published about Ramos harassing a female classmate in 2011.

The paper’s former editor, Thomas Marquardt, said he’d reported Ramos to police after he posted a slew of violent and threatening Twitter messages aimed at the newspaper.

“I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence,” Marquardt told the Baltimore Sun.

A police report obtained by The New York Times says authorities at the time determined Ramos wasn’t a threat. 

As of Thursday, Ramos’ Twitter account was still active and filled with threatening messages.

According to The Baltimore Sun his bio read, “Dear reader: I created this page to defend myself. Now I'm suing the ----- out of half of AA County and making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers are being praised for their swift action.

Officers from several different jurisdictions arrived on the scene within one minute of the first call and immediately entered the building.

“Seconds matter. Seconds are lives…These cops didn’t know each other. They did it because that’s how they were trained. And they married up and made it work. Truly, truly that’s the way it’s supposed to happen,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare.

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