A reporter and a photographer were shockingly shot to death on live television during an Aug. 26 broadcast. The gunman opened fire on the two WDBJ employees while they conducted an interview in Moneta, Virginia.
We are completely stunned by this horrible tragedy. Two members of a Virginia news crew are now dead after an unthinkable attack. A gunman shot and killed Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, during a Wednesday morning interview and the killing was broadcast live on the air. Watch the GRAPHIC video at your own discretion.
Alison and Adam were murdered while conducting an interview with Smith Mountain Lake Chamber Director Vicki Gardner at Bridgewater Plaza, near Moneta, on Aug. 26, reports CNN. Alison and Adam were identified by the station and the Franklin County’s Sheriff’s department. WDBJ general manager Jeffrey Marks issued a statement during the broadcast:
“It is my very, very sad duty to report that we have determined through the help of the police and our own employees that Alison and Adam died this morning shortly after 6:45 when the shots rang out. We do not know the motive. We do not know the suspect or who the killer is. We do know that the Franklin County sheriff, I just got off the phone with the Franklin County Sheriff Overton, I just got off the phone with the state police, they are working very diligently to track down both the motive and the person responsible for this terrible crime against two fine journalists.”
“We are investigating an incident at Smith Mountain Lake.” Franklin County Sheriff’s Department tells HollywoodLife.com. Vicki was shot in the back and was in surgery, according to Barb Nocera, the chamber’s special projects manager. The authorities have named Vester Lee Flanagan as a “person of interest,” before he was reportedly named an official suspect.
The authorities quickly began an intense search of the killer after the shooting. A picture of the shooter was taken from the footage. In it, he’s seen pointing his gun at the camera. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said the shooter was believed to be a “disgruntled employee” of WDBJ, reports WTOP. Vester’s family has since issued a statement about the shootings.
What makes this story even more heartbreaking was that Adam’s fiancé, Melissa Ott, was in the WDBJ control room during the incident. She watched the entire shooting happen live. Friends of Alison called her a “radiant” woman, and that she and her boyfriend, news anchor Chris Hurst, were “very much in love.” Coworkers said that they never saw Adam without a smile and that his death was a terrible loss.
Sounds of the attack were captured during the live broadcast, along with horrified screams. Be careful when watching the video above. It’s blood chilling, especially because two innocent people are now dead. Though the camera falls away after the first gunshot, the footage is haunting since it’s the last image of Alison before she and Adam were murdered in cold blood.
We will update this story as further details are revealed. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as well to all their coworkers.
— Jason Brow