Wendi Winters stood as soon as she heard the bangs.
A man with a gun had broken the glass doors leading to the newsroom of the Capital Gazette and was shooting at her colleagues, many of whom dropped to the floor or dove under their desks. Not Winters.
Grabbing the trash can and recycling bin she kept by her desk, she ran toward the man and yelled at him to stop — distracting him long enough to allow some of her colleagues to escape. Of the 11 people in the room that day, six survived.
“In an act of extraordinary courage, she gave her heart, and she gave her last breath, and she gave her final eight pints of blood to the defense of the free press and in defense of her family at the Capital,” Winters’s son Phoenix Geimer told a crowd of more than 700 family members, co-workers and friends gathered on Saturday in the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts to celebrate Winters’s life. “She died fighting for what she believed in. My mom is an American hero, and we all have so much to live up to.”
Winters, 65, was among five Capital Gazette employees killed June 28 when, according to police, a man who had long borne a grudge against the paper opened fire in the Annapolis office in an effort to kill the reporters and editors inside.
Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, has been charged with five counts of murder in the shootings. Also killed were Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith.
Hiaasen, 59, a columnist who had joined the paper as an assistant editor, was remembered at a Monday memorial service in Owings Mills. Private services are scheduled Sunday for Fischman, 61, an editorial page editor, and Smith, 34, a sales assistant. A memorial service for McNamara, a reporter, will be held Tuesday at the Memorial Chapel of the University of Maryland at College Park.
Winters’s final act was described by her son, based on accounts he said were provided by at least one person who was in the room. It was consistent with a life spent giving everything she could — her time, care and attention — to her four children, to her community and to her work as a reporter, mourners said.
“To be Wendi is to take everything you can possibly offer the world and to pour it into your kids and your community,” her 20-year-old daughter Summerleigh Geimer told the crowd. “To be Wendi is to have a story for every occasion.”
Winters served for more than two decades as an editor and community reporter at the Capital Gazette and was known throughout the area for her “Teen of the Week” columns spotlighting Annapolis youth. She was a prolific chronicler of local doings, writing between 275 to 350 feature articles annually.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Hannah Natanson