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Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch Reacts To Newsroom Shooting

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

At 2:43 this afternoon in Annapolis, Md., an intern at the Capital Gazette newspaper started tweeting. Active shooter, he wrote, then gave the address and added, please help us. We are tracking what happened from there as a gunman did indeed open fire in the Annapolis newsroom. Here's Maryland's governor, Larry Hogan, speaking a short while ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LARRY HOGAN: It's a tragic situation. We can't - we have had several fatalities and several people that are in the hospital.

KELLY: What we know at this hour is that five people are confirmed dead. Several others are gravely injured. The gunman is in custody. Well, Michael Busch is the speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. His district includes Annapolis. And he joins me on the line now from his office there. Hi, Mr. Busch.

MICHAEL BUSCH: Mary, how are you today?

KELLY: I'm well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I go by Mary Louise. And we're glad to have you on the program. Sorry it's under these circumstances. I wonder if I could start by asking what you're hearing from authorities. Can you add any more detail to what we know?

BUSCH: I can't add any more detail really to what you already know. I do know from being in that building numerous times that if a gunman came in through the front door, it's very open. And, you know, if they're firing a gun, most of the people that would be in the newsroom would be very easily accessible being shot, and there's nowhere to run to really. So, I mean, it is a terrifying situation I'm sure if you were in there. And I have many friends that work at that newspaper, and I am very I guess anxious in some ways and - but, you know, I hope they're safe and - but five people have died. It's a very small news staff. It's a great newspaper, covers all local news and very friendly, very good, very community-oriented.

KELLY: It's - I want to follow up on that. It is a very small staff. Can you just paint us a little bit of a picture of what this newsroom looks like, where it's situated in Annapolis?

BUSCH: Yeah. It's in a - basically a public building.

KELLY: OK.

BUSCH: And you go in. And if you go through the front doors, there's two or three offices right in front of you. And then to your right is a bunch of cubicles where many of the reporters do their daily work. And if someone comes in there with a gun, they're really in jeopardy. I mean, there's no place for them to go really. And there's no hallways. There's nothing of that nature that they can really scramble to. And if a gunman comes through that front door, they're very, very, very vulnerable and in jeopardy.

And, you know, I know the vast majority of the writers there. I'm involved in athletics. I know the sports staff. I know the local community staff, the people that do community articles. I know the political writers, the editorial writers and the Gazette editor. Thank God he's fine. I texted him, Rick Hutzell, who is fine. He was out of the office with a man named Chase Cook.

KELLY: Right.

BUSCH: The ones that were back in the office were all at jeopardy. So I just hope that everyone is all right. We know that five people are dead. But, you know, it's just a real, real tragedy for our community.

KELLY: Mr. Speaker, thank you for your time, and our condolences on what I know is a really tough day there in Annapolis.

BUSCH: It is a very tough day, and thank you very much.

KELLY: That's Michael Busch, speaker of the House of the Maryland House of Delegates. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.