Trump orders flags lowered to half-staff in honour of Capital Gazette shooting victims after rejecting Annapolis mayor's initial request

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump embraces the American flag.
  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a presidential proclamation honouring victims of the Capital Gazette newspaper shooting.
  • He had reportedly rejected a request to lower American flags in honour of the five people killed last week.
  • Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said he was “disappointed” by the decision.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered state flags lowered from Friday until sunset on Monday, July 2.
  • Trump previously ordered American flags lowered to half-staff after other deadly shootings.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a proclamation to lower American flags to half-staff in honour of the five people killed last week in a mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.

Trump’s move Tuesday came after he faced some criticism for rejecting Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley’s initial request, which he made over the weekend in an effort to keep the tragedy front-of-mind for people in the US, according to The Baltimore Sun.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know,” Buckley told The Sun on Monday. “Is there a cutoff for tragedy?”

“This was an attack on the press,” Buckley said. “It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered state flags lowered from Friday until sunset on Monday, July 2, The Sun reported.

Lowering the American flag to half-staff is a respected tradition to indicate “when the whole nation is in mourning,” according to the Veterans Affairs. The tradition was first officially observed during President Dwight Eisenhower’s tenure in 1954.

Trump has ordered American flags lowered to half-staff after other shootings, like in May, in remembrance of the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas that killed 10 people; and in February, in honour of the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Trump called the Capital Gazette shooting a “terrible act of violence” in his proclamation on Tuesday.

Buckley originally said he considered lowering the city’s flags regardless of Trump’s decision, but was advised not to by his wife.

“At this point in time, it would start to polarize people and I don’t want to make people angry,” Buckley told The Sun.

“It’s not as noticeable when a state flag is down but you still have your main flags at full mast,” Buckley said.

The five victims – Gerald Fischman, Robert Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters – were killed after a gunman opened fire with a pump-action shotgun at the Capital Gazette newsroom on Thursday.

A Bloomberg journalist started a crowdfunding campaign to help support the victims. As of Monday afternoon, it had raised more than $US188,240 of its $US200,000 goal. That goal had previously been set to $US30,000 and was raised several times as the donation pledges increased.

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