Awards ceremony honors helpers, responders in Capital Gazette taking pictures – Capital Gazette

Now capable of converse freely on the case, Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess on Monday formally honored a number of of the primary responders and good Samaritans who helped victims of the Capital Gazette taking pictures that claimed 5 lives and shocked Annapolis practically 4 years in the past.

During the primary Crime Victims’ Rights Week Awards ceremony because the conclusion of the legal case stemming from the mass taking pictures in Annapolis, Leitess issued awards to seven individuals who she mentioned had been the “tip of the iceberg” of those that got here to aide on the Capital Gazette newsroom June 28, 2018, and within the courtroom in the course of the years that adopted.

“They helped the injured, they preserved evidence, they gathered witnesses who saw firsthand what happened, they testified in support of the prosecution in the biggest criminal case that our county has ever seen,” Leitess mentioned on the ceremony in Acton’s Cove Waterfront Park, the place a memorial backyard honors Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, the 5 Capital Gazette staff who had been killed that day.

Among these honored had been Keith Cyphers, an insurance coverage salesman who referred to as 911 when he heard the primary shotgun blast whereas he was working at 888 Bestgate that day, and later testified what he had seen.

“He saw, heard and experienced the horrors” of the taking pictures, Leitess mentioned, noting that Cyphers’ description of the gunman’s actions “were so incredible, that they helped refute and debunk” his attorneys’ claims the shooter was insane in the course of the assault, main a jury to search out him criminally accountable and in the end sentenced to spend his life in jail.

Also honored had been Anne Arundel County Police Cpl. Danelo Sobers, Cpl. Ryan McGeeney and Detective Greg Lesane, who had been the primary police to reach on the scene, and Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brian Williams and now-retired Cpl. Barry Byers, who joined them shortly after. Navigating smoky hallways in the course of the energetic shooter case, the crew escorted injured victims to paramedics and survivors out of the constructing and stood guard earlier than the gunman was discovered.

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“We know that their response mattered, because the assailant would later tell authorities that he had heard them, and stopped what he was doing because of them,” Leitess mentioned.

Anne Arundel County Detective Jason DePietro, the lead investigator of the case, was given an award for his meticulous assortment of proof that satisfied the jury that the suspect was not insane in the course of the assault.

The ceremony, in its twenty first iteration, additionally honored Matt Riley and Meredith Bass, a firefighter and a nurse who saved lives throughout a February 2020 crash on Aris T. Allen Boulevard.

“When Mr. Riley and Ms. Bass saw what occurred, they stopped their vehicles, they sprung into action,” Assistant State’s Attorney Carolynn Grammas mentioned. They assessed motorists Andrew Oles and his spouse, Amanda Ward, who had been injured by a drunken driver who had crossed the median and hit their car.

“I should be dead,” Ward, a nurse, mentioned in her sufferer influence assertion, which Grammas learn aloud on the ceremony. “There were so many opportunities for this to end in death. But the community saved my life.”

Riley and Bass additionally went to the opposite car, the place they helped rescue the drunken driver’s 2-year-old daughter.

This 12 months’s Warren B. Duckett Jr. Memorial Commitment to Justice Award went to Det. Kala Jennings, the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s home violence head for the Eastern District, who “consistently goes beyond what is expected of her,” typically following up with victims after studying reviews she finds regarding, connecting victims with wanted companies, and preserving an “open line of communication” with victim-witness advocates, in response to Joan Stammnitz, the state’s legal professional’s workplace’s victim-witness service director.

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