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Trump to order flags flown at half-staff to honor Capital Gazette victims

The Capital Gazette building, the morning after a gunman attacked the newsroom, in Annapolis, Md., June 29, 2018. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Tuesday, July 3, ordering flags flown at half-staff on federal buildings to honor the five victims of the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, the White House said.

The decision follows a request over the weekend by Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, D, which he said was initially not granted.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the decision was made Monday night "as soon as the president heard about the request from the mayor."

She said that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke with Buckley both Monday night and Tuesday morning to alert him to the decision.

In an interview earlier Monday with the Capital newspaper, Buckley said he was disappointed to hear that his request would not be honored.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed. . . . Is there a cutoff for tragedy?" Buckley told the paper. "This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It's just as important as any other tragedy."

Four journalists and a sales associate were killed in the attack Thursday that police said was carried out by Jarrod Ramos, who had threatened employees of the paper before.

"Our Nation shares the sorrow of those affected by the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland," Trump said in the proclamation issued Tuesday. "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."

The proclamation ordered the flag at half-staff at the White House and all other federal buildings and grounds until sunset Tuesday. It also ordered the flag at half-staff for the same length of time at U.S. embassies, military facilities and other facilities abroad.

The flag is flown at half-staff on federal buildings by presidential proclamation as a sign of respect after the deaths of public officials or noteworthy figures and after some mass shootings. In 2016, for example, it was flown at half-staff 53 times, including after mass killings in Orlando and Brussels. More recently, it flew at half-staff after 10 people were killed at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.

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Story by John Wagner. Wagner is a national reporter who leads The Post's new breaking political news team. He previously covered the Trump White House. During the 2016 presidential election, he focused on the Democratic campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. He also chronicled Maryland government for more than a decade.

The Washington Post's Justin Wm. Moyer contributed to this report.

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