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Trump orders US flags lowered to honor Gazette shooting victims

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump ordered American flags to be lowered to half-staff through Tuesday to honor of the victims of last week’s deadly shooting at an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper.

The city’s mayor said the request was initially denied.

Five people were killed and two were injured on Thursday in a “targeted attack” on the Capital Gazette newspaper by a gunman with a grudge against the paper, authorities have said. Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley subsequently asked the White House to order the lowering of American flags.

Asked about Buckley’s claim that his request was denied, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN on Tuesday morning that “as soon as the president directly heard the request made by the mayor, he asked that we reach out and verify that the mayor had made the request. When we did, the president asked that the flags be lowered immediately.”

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Sanders said she spoke to Buckley on Monday night to inform him of the president’s decision, adding that she was “not sure about the process” which led to Buckley’s claim that his request was initially denied.

“But there’s certain protocol that was followed,” she added. “It was — but when the President heard about the mayor’s specific request to him, he fulfilled the mayor’s request in order for the flags to be lowered.”

Buckley called the initial decision to not lower the flags “an attack on the press” and “an attack on freedom of speech.”

“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? … Is there a cutoff for tragedy?” Buckley told the Gazette.

A message left with Buckley’s office Tuesday morning after the lowering of the flags was not immediately returned.