Breaking: Reporter, photographer shot to death on live TV in VA; Update: McAuliffe says “disgruntled former employee”? Update: Suspect shoots self, in critical condition; Update: Suspect pronounced dead
posted at 9:21 am on August 26, 2015 by Ed Morrissey
Two journalists from WDBJ have been killed in a shooting that was captured on live television this morning. Alison Parker was in the middle of an interview airing live when a gunman shot her to death, and photographer Adam Ward was then shot and killed as well. No one has been arrested as of yet:
Police are searching for a person who they say shot at multiple people Wednesday morning, killing WDBJ7’s reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake. …
Members with Bedford, Franklin County and Virginia State Police are on scene. Sgt. Ryan Young with the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries confirmed half a dozen of their department are on scene searching the shoreline and surrounding area.
Police say they continue to look for the shooter at this time and are hoping to get a description out to the public shortly. This incident remains under investigation.
WDBJ has pictures of both slain journalists up on their site, along with brief bios that emphasize their connection to the local community:
Adam was 27-years-old. Alison just turned 24.
Both were from the WDBJ7 viewing area.
Adam graduated from Salem High School and Virginia Tech.
Alison grew up in Martinsville and attended Patrick Henry Community College and James Madison University.
There is footage of the shooting, but I have chosen not to embed it into this post out of respect for Parker, whose last moments of life are briefly captured in the video. Our prayers go out to Parker and Ward, their colleagues, families, and friends — and to law enforcement, too. Let’s hope they quickly capture the coward who shot two unarmed and peaceful people who only wanted to do their jobs well for their community. We’ll update this story as it unfolds.
Update: The video did grab an image of the gunman. Anyone in Virginia who knows this man, please contact police immediately:
Find this man! pic.twitter.com/6vVxP0JoVq
— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) August 26, 2015
Update: Parker’s fiancé, Chris Hurst, sent out this tweet a short time ago:
She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother.
— Chris Hurst (@chrishurstwdbj) August 26, 2015
First reports had Parker engaged to Ward, which is obviously incorrect, and a good reminder about first reports in breaking-news situations. It’s a beautiful remembrance of a woman taken far too young, and far too senselessly from Hurst and everyone in their community.
Update: More screencaps of the shooter:
Here are the best screengrabs I've seen so far of the killer. Anyone in the VA area please help find this monster. pic.twitter.com/IeL6e9Ua9Z
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) August 26, 2015
Let’s bring this man to justice.
Update: If this is true, they’re already looking for a specific suspect:
JUST IN: Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe said on the radio that the Va. shooter is a disgruntled former employee.
— FOX8 WGHP (@myfox8) August 26, 2015
I’d still caution about first reports. McAuliffe may be governor, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get out ahead of his skis.
Update: The suspect, now identified as former reporter Vester Flanagan, shot himself while police closed in on him, but is apparently still alive. Before shooting himself, though, Flanagan apparently posted video of the murders on Facebook and Twitter:
Two television journalists were shot and killed in Virginia on Wednesday morning while conducting a live interview, and authorities said the suspect appeared to be a disgruntled current or former employee of the TV station.
Police pursued the suspect and in the late morning, an ABC local affiliate and CNN reported the suspected shooter had shot himself, but it was not known if he was dead or alive. The suspect was identified as Vester Flanagan, 41, according to a dispatcher for the Augusta County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Department.
After the shooting of the journalists, someone claiming to have filmed it posted video online that appeared to be from shooter’s vantage point.
The videos were posted to a Twitter account and on Facebook but were removed shortly afterward. One video clearly showed a handgun as the person filming approached the woman reporter.
That will make for an easy conviction, assuming Flanagan survives to trial, if those postings can be traced back to him.
Update: Flanagan has been pronounced dead, according to the Washington Post.
Parker’s father expressed his grief and his disbelief over the loss of his daughter:
About an hour after the 24-year-old television reporter was gunned down while doing a live interview outside a shopping center in Southwest Virginia, a senior manager at the station called her family to say Alison had been killed by a disgruntled former co-worker.
“My grief is unbearable,” said her father, a banking industry recruiter from Martinsville, Va. “Is this real? Am I going to wake up? I am crying my eyes out. I don’t know if there’s anybody in this world or another father who could be more proud of their daughter.” …
Alison was talented enough, those who knew her say, to make it to primetime as a broadcast reporter. The 2012 James Madison University graduate was one of the most promising journalists the university had seen, according to Brad Jenkins, the general manager of the student newspaper “The Breeze,” where Parker worked as news editor.
“She was an excellent journalist,” Jenkins said. “I pictured seeing her on national news one day — she was that good. She had the ‘it’ factor.”
What a senseless loss for all involved, both for Parker and Ward. Our prayers continue to be with them all.