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Relatives, colleagues remember Annapolis shooting victim Rob Hiaasen

Veteran journalist killed in Capital Gazette shooting had ties to South Florida

DORAL, Fla. – Among the victims of Thursday's shooting at an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper is a veteran journalist who grew up in South Florida.

Carl Hiaasen, a prolific novelist and a longtime columnist for the Miami Herald, confirmed that his brother, Rob Hiaasen, was one of the victims in the shooting at the Capital Gazette.

"We just began to wait to see if we would hear from him, and after a period of time, we realized we weren't going to," Miami Herald editor Amy Driscoll told Local 10 News. 

Born and raised in Plantation, Rob Hiaasen graduated from the University of Florida and worked at the Palm Beach Post. He went on to work at the Baltimore Sun before becoming an assistant editor at the Capital Gazette, where he had been employed since 2010.

"Rob was an editor and columnist at the paper, and one of the most gentle and funny people I've ever known," Carl Hiaasen said of his brother in a Facebook post. "He spent his whole gifted career as a journalist, and he believed profoundly in the craft and mission of serving the public's right to know the news. We called him Big Rob because he was so tall, but it was his remarkable heart and humor that made him larger than all of us."

I am devastated and heartsick to confirm the loss of my wonderful brother Rob today in the mass shooting in the newsroom...

Posted by Carl Hiaasen on Thursday, June 28, 2018

Driscoll worked with Rob Hiaasen when they were both young reporters at the Palm Beach Post. He was initially hired there to report on the local government, but quickly moved over to feature writing. 

"His writing was lyrical and beautiful, but also smart and funny," Driscoll said. 

Rob Hiaasen's nephew, Scott Hiaasen, remembered his uncle not only as a great journalist, but as a great person.

"He was a really good man and a wonderful father, and he deserved better than this," Scott Hiaasen said.

Scott Hiaasen said his uncle was very passionate about his work and put his heart into telling people's stories. 

"The nuance. You know the whole world's gray. There's no black and white. He put his heart in journalism to take the time to demonstrate that through his reporting," Scott Hiaasen said. "He was really good at that, and I think it was really important to him for everyone to see the world as complicated as it was."  

Steve Gunn, the former Capital Gazette editor, said Rob Hiaasen was a "gifted editor who had an aura of an artist around him who made people want to make journalism a beautiful craft."

Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino said Rob Hiaasen was a "terrific journalist" and an even better person.

Cerabino said he sent a tweet to Rob Hiaasen upon learning about the shooting, but he never got a reply.

"I started to imagine the worst, and then when I heard it, it's just unfair, you know," Cerabino said.

Carl Hiaasen spoke about his brother Friday morning on CNN.

"As we watched what's been happening in this country and every, you know, this tragedy will eventually fall out of the headlines and a few weeks from now will be replaced by another one with victims and families grieving, just as ours is," Carl Hiaasen said.