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Maryland's Leaders & Residents React To Colin Powell's Death

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) -- Tributes from throughout Maryland poured in Monday for the late Gen. Colin Powell.

Powell, the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, died Monday morning of complications resulting from COVID-19, his family announced on Facebook. He was 84.

The news came as a shock to everyone, from Baltimore residents to elected officials.

"(I'm) totally surprised," city resident Rod Robinson said. "Totally surprised. Just got the news."

The retired four-star general was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but his immune system was compromised by a form of blood cancer.

People who spoke with WJZ said Powell will be remembered for the legacy he leaves behind.

"I was overwhelmed, heartbroken," one resident said. "Because he's a very powerful man."

Powell, who served as national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during several presidential administrations, made history in 2001 when President George W. Bush named him Secretary of State.

The late general is being remembered for having great influence over U.S. foreign policy during his career in public service.

"I'm still trying to get over it," Robinson told WJZ. "I don't know him personally, but I know him because of who he was and what kind of role he played in the world."

Congressman Kweisi Mfume and Senator Ben Cardin both shared their sadness over the loss of Powell.

"With the passing of Colin L. Powell, America lost a great leader and public servant," Mfume said. " ... He won bipartisan respect at home and around the globe because of his integrity."

Said Cardin: "Secretary Powell was an incredible soldier, diplomat and leader of our nation. … He took his experience as a soldier and used it as a strategist to transition our military to meet the current threats of America."

Baltimore has its own unique way of remembering Powell. A wax figure of him is on display at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, which Powell visited in 1996.

"A man that served well and now leaves here because of COVID," Robinson said. "God bless his family."

In a tweet paying tribute to Powell, former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said the late general's death was a reminder that while vaccines offer protection against COVID-19, they're not all-powerful.

"Rest In Peace, General Colin Powell. Thank you for your leadership, service, and being an inspiration to so many," Dr. Wen said. "A reminder that the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die from #covid19 than the vaccinated. Vaccines are very protective, but virtually nothing is 100%."

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