Just hours after they survived the deadly mass shooting in their newsroom, Capital Gazette staff writers Phil Davis and Selene San Felice joined Anderson Cooper by phone on CNN Thursday night to talk about what happened. And they made it clear that “thoughts and prayers” from the president are not enough.
Davis, who has reported on shootings like this one before and was one of the first reporters to tweet details about the incident, retold his story in excruciating detail for CNN, including the moment he heard the gunman reload while he was hiding under his desk. “I’ll tell you when it first started to happen, I mean, you just immediately go into panic mode,” he added. He remembered thinking, “Are we all going to die?” and “Is he not going to leave until everyone in here is dead?”
“I have to say that what happened here was very calculated,” San Felice added later, indicating that the shooter may have been targeting editors specifically. When Cooper asked her how she’s holding up, she answered, “I mean, I watched someone die, so not super great.”
“I could be definitely, obviously, doing worse, but it’s hard for me to think past the next 30 minutes right now in my life. Thirty minutes is a long time, and I just—the answer is not good, right?” she continued. “But I’m here and I’m talking to you. And I know that a lot of people are listening. I have heard that President Trump sent his prayers. I’m not trying to make this political, all right? But we need more than prayers. I appreciate the prayers. I was praying the entire time I was under that desk. I want your prayers, but I want something else.”
President Trump sent his “thoughts and prayers” via Twitter on Thursday afternoon before departing on Air Force One for Wisconsin.
“Maybe people that don’t know what it’s like and certainly I would never hope anyone to go through a situation like we just went through, it makes you feel powerless. It makes you feel helpless,” Davis said. “It removes all control from every facet of your life within only a few seconds once you understand what’s happening.”
Going back to San Felice’s point about “thoughts and prayers,” he added, “I was praying when he started reloading that shotgun that there weren’t going to be more bodies. And you know what? If we’re at a position in our society where all we offer each other is prayers, then where are we? Where are we as a society where people die and that’s the end of that story.”
“This is going to be a story for how many days? Less than a week?” San Felice asked.
Recalling her experience reporting on the Pulse nightclub shooting, she said: “I’m going to need more than a couple days of news coverage and some thoughts and prayers, because it’s our whole lives have been shattered. And so thanks for your prayers, but I couldn’t give a fuck about them if there’s nothing else.”