The unthinkable has happened, as a TV reporter and a cameraman were killed during this morning’s live broadcast. The round of shootings was captured live on air as WDBJ reporter Alison Parker was interviewing Vicki Gardner, the head of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce.
According to the New York Daily News, the interview took place at Bridgewater Plaza, a popular tourism area in Moneta, Virginia.
According to CNN, the gunman, Vester Flanagan, aka “Bryce Williams” was a former on air reporter of the station. Flanagan was fired a year ago by the station. He used a GoPro camera to film the killings and posted them to his social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook. It’s suspected that Flanagan shot himself in his car.
— KTLA 5 Morning News (@KTLAMorningNews) August 26, 2015
In the very disturbing video, seven shots can be heard before journalist Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, were pronounced dead. There’s brief audio of Ward as he presumably falls to the ground. The camera sways from Parker and Gardner’s view as they take for cover. In the background Parker is heard screaming before the footage is cut off.
Before the footage is cut off Flanagan is briefly visible, wearing a black coat while pointing a gun at the two women.
Another journalist visibly shaken and confused, tries her best to collect herself and carry on the report. “Okay, not sure what happened there. We will let you know what happened there as soon as we know what those sounds were.”
While reporting on Parker and Gardner’s deaths, station manager Jeff Marks said, “We heard screaming, and then heard nothing. “Our team’s working on the story right now, through the tears.”
According to CNN, Ward’s fiancee, WDBJ7 morning producer Melissa Ott was in the control room when live footage came in of the shooting. Additionally, Parker’s boyfriend, WDBJ7’s evening anchor Chris Hurst, came forward with their relationship in the wake of her tragic death. Hurst, clearly in shock, wrote in a Facebook post that they were “in love” and wanted to get married.
In the post Hurst writes, “We didn’t share this publicly, but Alison Parker and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb. We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday. 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.”
He continued, “I am comforted by everyone at WDBJ7. We are a family. She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee. She is our morning show producer. This is unconscionable. But I WILL share her story because it is one full of life, dreams, love and amazing journalism. She just finished working on an incredible special on child abuse and it was fantastic. We will get through this and there will be justice. Your thoughts and prayers mean the world to me.”
With the note, he also posted photos of he and Parker celebrating life, the way she should be remembered, as opposed to the gruesome footage that went live on the air this morning.
Parker came on board as a WDBJ reporter in May of 2014 after interning at the station in the summer.
As for Vicki Gardner, she was hit with a bullet in the back, and is currently in surgery.
[Photos via Facebook]