Donald Trump ordered flags lowered to half-staff until sundown Tuesday, in honor of the victims of the shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper. The request comes after Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley claimed that Trump had denied his request to have flags lowered.
As The Capital Gazette reports, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders called Buckley Tuesday morning to inform him of Trump’s decision. Trump then issued a proclamation ordering flags lowered to half-staff nationwide.
“Our nation shares the sorrow of those affected by the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. Americans across the country are united in calling upon God to be with the victims and to bring aid and comfort to their families and friends.”
On Monday, as reported by the Inquisitr, Buckley claimed that the White House at first denied his request to have flags lowered nationwide.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? Is there a cutoff for tragedy? This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”
Buckley had also considered ordering flags lowered to half-staff apart from Trump’s approval or disapproval, but he says his wife talked him out of it.
“At this point in time, it would start to polarize people and I don’t want to make people angry.”
In fact, Buckley’s request may not have been denied so much as delayed. Sanders claims that she called Buckley on Monday night to confirm that he had made the request and to tell him that the White House would respond later, according to CBS News.
Sanders also said that she personally informed Buckley of the president’s decision.
Meanwhile, Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, has been charged with five counts of murder for last Thursday’s shooting. Ramos had had a longstanding dispute with the newspaper and its employees dating back years, according to the Baltimore Sun.
In 2012, Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, after the paper reported on a criminal charge against him the previous year. That lawsuit was dismissed, but Ramos allegedly continued a harassment campaign against the paper.
Ramos is charged in the killings of editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who led special publications; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; editor and sports writer John McNamara, 56; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a recently hired sales assistant.
Trump, meanwhile, bears at least some degree of responsibility for this shooting, according to The Columbia Journalism Review, as he has consistently called the press “the enemy of the people.”