WTTG-Fox 5 Splits Screen to Show World Cup, Active Shooter Scene

Update: Law enforcement officials have confirmed the suspect is in custody. Officials also confirmed there were five fatalities and multiple injured.  

Fox-owned WTTG-TV Washington (Fox 5) decided to continue showing the England v. Belgium World Cup game even as it covered the breaking news of a shooting at an Annapolis, Md., daily newspaper, the Capital Gazette.

Fox 5 anchors reassured World Cup fans that they could continue to watch the game (without sound) on the right of the screen as the left showed a helicopter-eye view of what was described as an active shooter situation with multiple fatalities. 

The live online stream of the station's coverage was confined only to the active shooter scene.

At press time, both the soccer game and the news coverage continued to divide the screen as anchors reported that there could still be active shooters and perhaps bombs.

Fox 5 was among a host of local and national outlets covering the incident.

A courts and crimes reporter from the paper told The Baltimore Sun, which owns the Capital Gazette, that the shooter shot through the glass door of the newsroom and started firing at employees in what he described as a "war zone."

The President tweeted Thursday afternoon that he had been briefed on the attack and that "his thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."

Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said on CNN that newsrooms likley needed to take security precautions given the current "highly polarized environment," though he conceded he did not know the reason for the attack.

CNN's Brian Stelter said while he did not know the cause of the attack, it was something journalists have been fearing.

If so, that could be because President Donald Trump has called media outlets dishonest, scum and the enemies of the people, and has called them out at rallies as fake news out to get him.

Related: Sen. Flake Brands Trump Press Attacks Moral Vandalism

Even if it is unrelated to any animus toward journalists, the fact that the political climate was being posited as a possible motive spoke to that ongoing concern.

Related: Reporters Committee Says Trump Has Crossed Dangerous Line

The Committee to Protect Journalists has argued that the President's verbal attacks raise the threat level for journalists generally.

"We are appalled by the shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom," said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Newspapers like the Gazette do vital work, and our thoughts are with them amid this unconscionable tragedy. Violence against journalists is unacceptable, and we welcome the thorough investigation into the motivations behind the shooting."

In an interview on CNN, a reporter who said she barely escaped the gunman said she wanted more than the President's thoughts and prayers--she used the F-word for emphasis--and a few days of news coverage.

Capital Gazette reporter Jimmy DeButts tweeted:


Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.