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Survivors speak after Capital Gazette shooter pleads guilty

Posted at 10:32 PM, Oct 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-28 23:12:53-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — In just two days, jury selection will begin for the Capital Gazette deadly shooting that took place in June 2018.

This is phase two, because on Monday afternoon, the gunman, Jarrod Ramos pleaded guilty. The judge accepted the guilty plea after seeing the state's evidence, one being the statement of facts which was an emotional moment for survivors.

RELATED: Judge finds Jarrod Ramos guilty of all 23 charges in Capital Gazette shooting

Survivors walked out of the Anne Arundel County Courthouse after a trying day, reliving when Ramos shot and killed their coworkers, five Capital Gazette employees.

"I think today was a relief for me, a big emotional relief," said Rachael Pacella, a reporter at the Gazette. "I definitely feel a little better and a little lighter after this plea."

The state entered 71 pieces of evidence to support the plea, ultimately the judge accepted his guilt of all 23 federal charges, including five counts of first degree murder, attempted first-degree murder of Paul W. Gillespie, a photographer at the paper who escaped and six additional counts of first-degree assault of Gillespie and other staffers including, Selene San-Felice, Phillip Davis, Janel Cooley, Anthony Messenger, and Rachael Pacella .

"There's a certain level of closure that this brings," said Phillip Davis. "While it's not over and there is a not-criminally responsible trial to move forward, having to not go through this part of the trial would have been an argument of his guilt certainly seems validating."

Traumatizing for the survivors and the families of those who died, Wendi Winters , Robert Hiaasen , Gerald Fischman , John McNamara , and Rebecca Ann Smith.

"My thoughts are also with remembering them and what good people they were and what they meant to the people here in Annapolis," Pacella said.

Pacella stressed how grateful she is for all the support from the community.

"I also want to make sure I'm thanking the police officers who came in that day and saved my life, because I wouldn't be here without them," Pacella said.

A mass shooting that shook a country, but Selene San-Felice says it made her voice even stronger.

"What I do is important and we all do is important," she said. "I never want to stop doing that and it's defiance just to be alive right now, so I'm going to keep doing that as loud and in as many words as I can."

The trial won't begin until next week or the following week.