Capital Gazette intern recalls how he survived newsroom shooting


When gunfire broke out at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Maryland Thursday afternoon, the new summer intern initially thought he heard fireworks.

But when 19-year-old Anthony Messenger heard the second round of shots, his instincts kicked in.

“After that I wasn’t positive what was going on, but I was scared enough to grab my keys and I ran toward the back exit of the door,” he said during an appearance on Today.

Another Capital Gazette Reporter, Selene San Felice, also made a dash to the rear exit and jiggled the door’s handle — but it was stuck.

“That door is normally never locked from the inside out, we have no problems getting out of that door. For whatever reason that day, it was jammed,” Messenger said.

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Victims of the Capital Gazette shooting
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Victims of the Capital Gazette shooting
Candles representing the slain journalists of Capital Gazette sit on display during a candlelight vigil held near the Capital Gazette, the day after a gunman killed five people inside the newspaper's building in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 29, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Robert Hiaasen, 59, assistant editor
Rebecca Smith, 34, sales assistant
Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial writer
John McNamara, 56, reporter 
Wendi Winters, 65, local news reporter
A woman holds a copy of the Capital Gazette during a candlelight vigil to honor the five people who were killed inside the Capital Gazette newspaper the day before in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S. June 29, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
ANNAPOLIS, MD - JULY 02: Beads, a wooden heart and flowers decorate a photograph of Wendi Winters at a makeshift memorial outside the Capitol Gazette offices July 2, 2018 in Annapolis, Maryland. Winters, 65, a local news reporter and community columnist, was killed in a shooting along with her colleagues Gerald Fischman, 61, an editorial editor; Rob Hiaasen, 59, an editor and columnist; John McNamara, 56, a sports reporter and editor; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant. Police arrested Jarrod Ramos, 38, in the paper's newsroom and he is being held without bond on five counts of murder. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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“As soon as that happened, that signaled to me that it was intentional. Those are shots. You know, we see these things on the news all the time, so unfortunately we’re kind of desensitized to them.”

With few options left, both of the Capital Gazette team members ducked behind a desk in the back of the office space. Messenger managed to call 911 from the landline, but was not able to speak to anyone out of fear of giving away his location to the shooter. He tried again and got a busy line before texting his friend and begging them to phone the police.

“At that point, I thought I was going to die, we were going to die,” he said.

San Felice had left her cell phone at her desk, so Messenger handed over his so she could text her loved ones. But the reporter also fired off a tweet from Messenger’s account that quickly went viral.

“Active shooter 888 bestgate please help us,” it read.

Both Anthony and San Felice managed to stay out of sight and survived the attack without injuries. As they walked out their newsroom they tried “to keep their eyes off the ground,” where two of their dead colleagues lay.

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Deadly shooting at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland
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Deadly shooting at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland
Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - Several people were feared killed Thursday in a shooting at the building that houses the Capital Gazette, a daily newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington. A reporter for the Capital Gazette, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.' He said several people were killed.'There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Jarrod Ramos, suspected of killing five people at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018 is seen in this Anne Arundel Police Department booking photo provided June 29, 2018. Anne Arundel Police/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Police gather after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Capital Gazette reporter Chase Cook (R) and photographer Joshua McKerrow (L) work on the next days newspaper while awaiting news from their colleagues in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by Ivan Couronne / AFP) (Photo credit should read IVAN COURONNE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police gather near the Capitol Gazette newspaper office where a shooting occurred in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
ANNAPOLIS, MD - JUNE 28: Police respond to a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper building on Thursday, June 28, 2018 in Annapolis, Md. (Photo by Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us
A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead.
There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload
Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can't say much more and don… https://t.co/i1RmtpXmO9
Police officers respond to an active shooter inside a city building in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Greg Savoy
Journalist E.B Furgurson (R) takes notes with two other people as police officers respond to an active shooter inside a city building in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Greg Savoy
ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND - JUNE 28, 2018: Gavin Buckley, Mayor of Annapolis, comments on the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
A New York Police officer is seen deployed outside the New York Times building following a fatal shooting at a Maryland newspaper, in New York City, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A member of the FBI responds to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officials secure a crime scene after a gunman fired through a glass door at the Capital Gazette newspaper and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Capital Gazette reporter Chase Cook (R) and photographer Joshua McKerrow (L) work on the next days newspaper while awaiting news from their colleagues in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by Ivan Couronne / AFP) (Photo credit should read IVAN COURONNE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
New York Police officers are seen deployed outside the New York Times building, following a fatal shooting at a Maryland newspaper, in New York City, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan speaks during a press conference following a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - Several people were feared killed Thursday in a shooting at the building that houses the Capital Gazette, a daily newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington. A reporter for the Capital Gazette, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.' He said several people were killed.'There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (C) speaks during a press conference following a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officials secure a crime scene after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
FBI SWAT team members confer near a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A newspaper stand selling the Capital Gazette is pictured in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 28, 2018. - At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington.A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted that a 'gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees.''There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,' Davis said. (Photo by ZACH GIBSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officials survey the scene after a gunman fired through a glass door at the Capital Gazette newspaper and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, killing at least five people and injuring several others, in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Law enforcement officials survey the scene after a gunman fired through a glass door at the Capital Gazette newspaper and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Police officers talk to a man as they respond to an active shooter inside a city building in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018.

(REUTERS/Greg Savoy)

Police gather after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Sheriff's department members outside 888 Bestgate Road after a shooting in the Capital Gazette Newspaper office/newsroom on Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Annapolis, Md. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 28: A member of the NYPD stands guard in front of ABC headquarters as they increase security in Manhattan at major media companies following a shooting today at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland on June 28, 2018 in New York City. One suspect is in custody after up to five people were reported killed in the shooting at the local newspaper. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
ANNAPOLIS, MD - JUNE 28: Police respond to a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper building on Thursday, June 28, 2018 in Annapolis, Md. (Photo by Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
Police respond to a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper building on Thursday, June 28, 2018 in Annapolis, Md. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
The scene outside 888 Bestgate, where an active shooter was in the Capital Gazette Newspaper office/newsroom, with heavy police, fire, and rescue presence on Thursday, June 28, 2018 in Annapolis, Md. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
BPD at @baltimoresun for precautionary sweep in light of Capital-Gazette incident https://t.co/ZduDQAcoDS
Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis. I am in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh, and… https://t.co/UmUc8MhuF2
Emergency response vehicles drive near a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Law enforcement officials survey the scene after a gunman fired through a glass door at the Capital Gazette newspaper and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, killing at least five people and injuring several others, in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Police stage behind the Westfield Annapolis Mall after a shooting in the Capital Gazette Newspaper office/newsroom on Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Annapolis, Md. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
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Jarrod Ramos, a 38-year-old Laurel man, was arrested for the brutal attack on the Annapolis newspaper, which left five dead and several more injured. He harbored a long-standing grudge against the Capital Gazette for a 2011 story that covered a criminal harassment charge against him. A year later, he brought a suit against then-columnist Eric Hartley, and the paper’s former editor and publisher Thomas Marquardt.

In 2015, the suit was dismissed.

The alleged gunman on Thursday was charged with five counts of first degree murder and has a bail review hearing scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in Annapolis.

“It’s unfortunate that somebody would come into a place that only reports truthful stories that are fact-based and unleash hell on the office,” Messenger told Today.

A senior at Salisbury University, Messenger only just begun working with the sports department as an intern four weeks ago. He said there is nothing that could’ve prepared him for the shooting that unfolded in his building Thursday afternoon.

"That’s never something that crossed my mind when I took the internship — that I might see people die, people that were nothing but welcoming and comforting to me,” he said.

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