Tragedy has befallen the family of a veteran staffer for Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland. Katie Malone, the 11-year staffer for Cummings, escaped a fire in her home, only to learn that six of her nine children perished in the blaze.
"A tragedy like this touches everybody in our city," Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said at a Jan. 12 news conference in front of the Malone home, notes The Baltimore Sun. "To know that so many children are not going to be with us as a result of this incident is so painful. What I want to ask Baltimore to do is to pray for the family. ... It's hard to say anything other than to pray for the family."
"(She) kept yelling, 'Help me, somebody help me, help me,'" said Robert Spencer, a neighbor of the Malones, reports WBAL. "And I asked her, 'Where are the babies?' She said, 'They're in the house.' I said, 'I'm going in there,' and my daughter and them [tried] to attack me and said, 'Dad, you can't go over there because it's too much.' She said, 'Daddy, please stay back.'"
Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford described the scene as well, noting that his fire crew was unable to save the children. "They were exhausted," he began. "They were in the front yard on one knee, and they saw me and they said, 'Chief, we did all we could,' because they knew the kids were in the house."
Rep. Cummings issued a statement following the tragedy:
I am asking that our entire community pray for my staff member, Katie Malone, and her young family. Katie has worked as a Special Assistant in my Catonsville office for nearly 11 years where she dutifully serves my constituents in the areas of immigration, postal services, and the military, including Service Academy nominations. I am grateful to the Baltimore City Fire Department and all those who responded quickly to the devastating fire. My staff is a family and this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all. I again ask for your prayers.