Virginia Reporter Shot Dead

Virginia TV News Reporter, Cameraman Shot Dead During Live Broadcast

A Roanoke, Va.-area TV news reporter and her cameraman were both shot dead by a suspected former colleague during a Wednesday-morning segment, as it was being broadcast live.

The suspected gunman, former WDBJ employee Vester Lee Flanagan aka Bryce Williams, shot himself upon being chased down by police on Interstate 66 and later died at the hospital.

Around 6:45 am, WDBJ-7’s Alison Parker, 24, with cameraman Adam Ward, 27, was reporting for the CBS affiliate from Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Va., when a gunman approached and fired about a half dozen shots, hitting Parker, Ward and their interview subject, Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director Vicki Gardner.

Shortly thereafter, WDBJ president and GM Jeffrey A. Marks went on air to report that both Parker and Ward had died from their injuries — “Our hearts are broken,” he said. “[We’re] holding back tears.” Gardner, shot in the back, is recovering from surgery and is in stable condiiton.

Flanagan posted a sickening first-person video of the assault to both Twitter and Facebook; both accounts were promptly suspended.

Ward was engaged to a producer at the station who was marking her final day there before moving out of town to a new job, with her fiancé, while Parker had been in a nine-month relationship with WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst:

 

 

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59 Comments
  1. Lauren says:

    I made the mistake of watching the footage on CNN. Don’t. You don’t actually see her get shot but the horror on her face and the screams. Yeah, don’t watch it.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Agreed; chilling.

    • B says:

      I’ve been impressed that news outlets have not shown it–it seems a bit out of the norm. It was all over my Facebook right after it happened and before we knew they had died. I can’t imagine what Adam Ward’s fiancée went through watching it live from the control room.

      I am from the area and cannot imagine a more innocuous place for something like this to happen.

    • damroberts744 says:

      I saw a screen shot and that was enough/too much for me. Terrible.

    • Abe Froman says:

      What’s even more chilling is how it looks like a video game. With the gun in the center and his point of view. Wonder if that was intentional.

    • misery chick says:

      Thanks Lauren.

    • David4 says:

      CNN is starting to give Fox a run for it’s money. And Fox on 9-11 showed people jumping out of the Twin Towers and followed them, zoomed in, all the way to the ground.

    • Andrea says:

      I did a good job of following your advice until tonight. Inside Edition aired more of the footage than other outlets have. Though I turned the volume down and looked away, I still heard more than I wanted to before i was able to get to the remote. Condolences for the tragic loss of Adam and Alison.

  2. GraceM says:

    My sympathies go out to their families and the reporter’s fiancé.

  3. tahina says:

    How terrible, what’s going on! so much crime and hate going around and politicians or those who think they are, fusing more hate around. . RIP to both.

  4. Drew says:

    How horrible. I pray for their families and loved ones, and hope that there are no online simpletons who use the video to make light of this situation. I hope they catch the SOB and fry him.

  5. HeatherC says:

    OMG, this is SO tragic and heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers go out to that station, the two victims’ family and friends, and all the people in VA especially those who were watching the news at that time. I hope that catch that idiot shooter and throw every book they have at him. =(

  6. maregolden says:

    This is not far from where I live. My daughter teaches in a school not too far from there and I have to admit I’m a bit nervous. Hope they catch him quickly.

  7. Larry says:

    Foreign and homegrown terrorists, shootings in schools, churches and theaters, liberal gun laws. America is just not a safe place to live if you are going about your business and still risking getting shot by a random crazy. It seems to get worse every damn year. And politicians are not doing anything about it. Same-old same-old. Congress needs to step up and do something. Our national gun deaths compared to other civilized western countries is embarrassing.

    • If there’s any possible bright side to that it’s that on a national level the US’s homicide rate is going down. US’s numbers are still comparable to Venezuela though.

    • Becky says:

      Actually, violence in America and in the rest of the world is not getting worse, it’s getting better. It may seem worse because we have 24/7 news and twitter and all the rest. But, in fact, we are living in the safest time in human history. You are less likely to die from violence than any other time.

      This is horrible and we all hope they catch this guy quickly. But, it’s not getting worse.

      • Lizo says:

        Unless you’re black and living in America that is

        • Brigid says:

          I agree, black people are killing each other every day over drugs, gangs and respect. It’s horrible but I pray that it will change for the better some day.

        • Becky says:

          Lizo and Brigid – the US and world is also a safer place for blacks. Today’s violent events are so well publicized (as they should be), that it seems to be increasing. But, the opposite is true. This progress has been seen for the last 60 or so years, but especially for the last 20 years. It is getting better, don’t let the headlines scare you. It’s a better world.

          • A fan of TV says:

            I hope you’re not using that as an excuse not to try to make our world even safer, though…

      • Mike M says:

        I live in New Zealand. There is a pretty good chance (way way better than even) that absolutely nobody is shot dead in my entire country tomorrow. Come talk to me about this rosey America you describe when you can say the same.

  8. Valerie T says:

    Absolutely senseless. There are no words.

  9. Steven says:

    I went to school for Broadcasting and briefly worked as a cameraman. I’m just in shock. The fact that you can be minding your own business and then suddenly it’s all over. And for no reason. Something has to be done about this.

  10. Babybop says:

    So heartbreaking. Prayers to the family and friends of those two people. To think you could just get shot down doing your job… Sad.

  11. Sean says:

    This is just scary and senseless. Praying for their families.

  12. mike says:

    sometimes we get caught up in our TV shows, and they get to feeling more real than they are to us. I see the nitpicking the arguing back and forth on here, and wonder why sometimes. this story brings it out that TV is for entertainment. it’s okay to like a show to get caught up in the show, but this story is real life two people died. so before we argue about whether Beckett should take a senator seat or how many times Gibbs has been shot or blown up on NCIS, please try to remember its for entertainment purposes.

  13. aph1976 says:

    My condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.However i’m wondering if this will make reporters be more careful now regarding going out on location.

    • Lois says:

      I don’t think anything is ever going to stop reporters going out on location. They go where the stories are, and they have to report things out and about. It might affect where exactly they carry out some interviews though, maybe more indoor reporting if it’s possible.

  14. smartysenior says:

    Is this a love triangle where the shooter is a jilted lover? They keep talking about who is in relationships which is weird unless the shooter was a jealous exlover. I think that may be what they are saying but it’s not being reported too clearly.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      That is not what they were intimating, at all.

    • maregolden says:

      Apparently he was a reporter at the station that had been fired. He blamed the cameraman for reporting him to human resources. They were reporting that he was dead, but they just retracted that.

    • Lois says:

      The reason they were talking about the relationships of the killed is because both of them had relationships with people who work at the news station, making it a particularly harrowing experience for those that work there, and creating an especially sad environment.

    • Steve F. says:

      From what I’ve read so far, the waste of space accused the station and the reporter of being racists. Yes, he pulled the race card…

  15. Chris says:

    This tragedy happened in my hometown! I’m praying for the family and friends of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, and for WDBJ-7!

  16. Katy says:

    I hope he lives because killing himself was the cowards way out (imho)

    • Katy says:

      And by that I mean he’s a coward because killing himself would mean he wouldn’t have to face what he has done.

  17. James says:

    Oh my goodness, so horrible. More gun control. It’s the only option. Stop selling them, confiscate them revoke permits. Reduce the risk.

    • Drew says:

      While we’re at it, we should limit free speech. If people weren’t allowed to disagree so much, there would be less anger and less violence. And we need to give the police more free access to homes and personal belongings. Wasting times on warrants and paperwork gives criminals more time to hurt people.

      • Steven says:

        Drew. Limiting freedom of speech and Gun control are not the same thing and the fact that you think they go hand in hand is what’s wrong with this country right now.

        • Lucifer says:

          The problem isn’t that we need gun control, the problem is that the gun control laws we have are not being used. The shooter at the movie theater recently was able to get a gun because the FBI failed to conduct a proper background check on him. Introducing more laws won’t help when the ones already in the books are not being used.

        • Drew says:

          No, it is exactly the same thing. We are discussing basic Constitutional rights, not privileges that can be taken away on a whim.
          Aside from that, the theory that there would be less crime if we made guns illegal is flawed. Most of these criminals get their guns illegally anyway. And if they don’t get guns, they get knives or bombs. Making guns harder to get or even illegal for the law abiding citizens only puts more innocent people in danger. This is proven in the many cities and states with stricter gun control laws. By your theory, Chicago and Washington DC should be extremely safe, while Texas should be a warzone. This isn’t the case at all.
          The reactionary call to ban guns is based on fear and lack of information, not sense, logic or education.

          • Angela says:

            People have grossly misinterpreted what the Second Amendment means, though, over the years. It talks about a well-regulated militia having the right to bear arms, and said nothing about average citizens who weren’t part of a militia owning them. And the fact that we don’t have uniform gun laws across the country is another factor as well-people go to areas with lax gun laws to get their guns, that’s how they wind up in areas with strict gun laws. If we had the laws the same nationwide, that might make at least some level of difference.
            The bottom line is that we’ve had WAY too many mass shootings in recent years, more than any other developed country deals with on a regular basis, and then we have situations like this. That screams “serious problem” to me. And I’m sick of people constantly trying to deny that the prevalence of guns isn’t at least partially to blame for these situations. You mentioned knives-yes, people kill with those, but they were also designed for non-violent uses, too. Their sole purpose isn’t to injure or kill people.
            Guns, on the other hand, that is all they are there for. That is the only purpose they have. Those and bombs. And they should be dealt with and regulated more closely for that reason alone.
            I guess I just don’t understand what the harm is in at least trying to change how we handle guns in this country. If a new method doesn’t work, we can always try another way or changing our laws again. But if we do change our gun laws, tighten them up, whatever, and we see much less of this stuff happening as a result, then I really fail to see where the problem is. But it’s clear something does need to be done, because the way we’re doing things now obviously doesn’t seem to be working very well, and the constant news of shootings every couple weeks, every month, is well past the point of ridiculous now.

          • Angela says:

            Also, there are restrictions on the First Amendment, too. The whole, “Can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” thing, and stuff of that sort. Just because it’s called the Bill of Rights, that doesn’t mean we have automatic free reign to do or say whatever we want without consequences for those actions.

          • Mike M says:

            “The reactionary call to ban guns is based on fear and lack of information, not sense, logic or education.”

            Utter total BS. The reactionary call to ban guns is based on the fact that without guns there are no human beings shot dead by gun shots. It is undeniable, irrefutable and takes no time at all to fix. You make the personal ownership of firearms illegal. Anyone caught with a firearm faces the death sentence. Your country’s problem is gone overnight.

          • Drew says:

            Angela, the Second Amendment has been misinterpreted, but not by people like me. It’s been misinterpreted by people like you. The militia was made up of common people when the need would arise. Therefore, until they needed to take action, they were just farmers, carpenters, or whatever average jobs average people did back in the day. So what you’re proposing is what? When the government gets out of control, those average citizens file a request with the government to be allowed access to strictly controlled firearms which they will then use to overthrow the government? “The right of the people to keep a bear arms shall not be infringed” means exactly what it says. The people. You and me. The right, not the privilege, to keep and bear arms. “Shall not be infringed” means the exact opposite of what you are proposing. This is clear, basic English. Any misinterpretation is deliberate, and it is by the side that wants to ban guns.
            You say that people go to places with less strict gun laws and then create violence in places with stricter gun laws. That makes no sense. The gun crimes in places with less strict gun laws would still have to be higher by leaps and bounds. So why are places with stricter laws seeing such higher crime levels? It’s because the good law-abiding citizens have no way of protecting themselves and criminals have nothing to fear.
            As we have seen in other countries lately, stricter gun laws do not prevent mass attacks. The crazy people who want to kill a lot of other people will still find a way of doing it. But what we have seen (though it hasn’t been reported nearly as much as the other attacks) is that planned mass murders have been thwarted by citizens who were able to carry and use their own weapons. Giving good people guns doesn’t turn them into murderers and criminals. It turns them into people who are willing and able to stop innocent lives from being lost.
            You think it’s easy to just “try” to revoke a Constitutional right and if it doesn’t work out, just give it right back? The world doesn’t remotely work that way. You honestly think that the corrupt government that we are supposed to monitor will just shrug and hand us back our weapons once they’ve been taken away? Or do you not think that the government is corrupt at this point?
            .
            .
            Mike M., that is silly logic. We’ve seen in other countries that taking away the guns doesn’t reduce the crimes. It simply gives the victim less chance to protect themselves. It can take 10 to 15 minutes for police to arrive once 911 is called. That means that they’re not there to protect the victim, they’re there to process a crime scene. Look at the clock for 15 minutes and think about the number of things that could happen in your home during that time, by people who aren’t as likely to smile and hand over their guns as you are. You want to make it more interesting? Look at the clock for five minutes. One third the time, but just as friggin scary when you have a drugged up monster walking down your hallway in the middle of the night.
            If someone is crazy, you can’t stop them from wanting to do crazy things. If they don’t have a gun, they will use something else. And most of the time, people know that these people are going to kill people someday. Families live in fear of family members who they know will try to kill them one day, but they can’t do it because the law won’t protect them until those crazies actually take action. They can’t lock their psychotic family member up in a facility where they can’t harm anyone. All they can do is wait, and hide the knives.
            That is where our focus should be. The mental health system is incredibly flawed. On top of that, most of these attackers had marijuana in their system when they committed the crime. People pass off marijuana as being the same as a beer, but it is processed by the body in a completely different way, remains stored in the fatty tissue of the brain, alters thought process and can completely change the course of a person’s brain development, depending on when use starts. Give a crazy person a mind-altering drug and if they can’t get a gun, they’ll use a car to kill people.
            Guns are tools. That’s it. If you take away someone’s hammer, they’re not going to decide that they don’t need to build that house after all. They will simply find another way.

          • Angela says:

            @Drew: What I’m proposing is that people who use and own guns actually prove they’re capable of using and owning them. If people are going to “take up arms” (and I’ll get to that part of the issue in a bit), I’d like to know they actually know what the hell they’re doing with the weapons they’re using.
            The fact that the founding fathers did specify a militia implies to me that they wanted a select group of people who were capable of handling weapons to be there if needed. That language does not mean that they meant that just any old person who felt like it could grab a gun and go do whatever with it, without any sort of regulation or understanding of how the danged thing worked. And considering the fact that at the time the Constitution was drafted, there were only certain groups of people who had any rights at all (namely white, land-owning males), and the founding fathers often stressed the importance of having only people with a certain level of education and knowledge running or being involved in anything of any importance, that should tell you something about their attitudes on who was allowed to do what right there.
            Even if the crime rate is higher in non-regulated areas, that’s still a reason why crime is spiking in places with strict gun control. People are able to commit their crimes in both regulated and non-regulated areas with ease because the laws aren’t uniform across the board. And regulation of guns doesn’t equal taking them away altogether. People can still buy and use them if they want, it’s just a matter of, again, making sure they are actually capable of using them responsibly.
            I have never said anything about “revoking” any rights. I am not a gun owner, I have no desire to own guns, and yet I would disagree with the extent of Mike M’s solution to the issue. I don’t want to ban guns, and most gun control advocates don’t, either. But you cannot deny that there are a lot of people obtaining guns who shouldn’t, such as this shooter, and if we enforced the gun laws we already had and created ones that closed some of the loopholes that make it so easy for criminals to get guns in the first place, illegally or legally, it might at least help a little. Nobody is naïve enough to think that gun violence will stop altogether if we exercise some tighter gun control, but to deny the fact that something needs to change on that front is just as naïve. Yes, other countries have had mass shootings, but again, not on as regular a basis as we’ve been having them. The very fact that people from other countries are expressing utter shock at how common this is here in the U.S. should tell you how unusual this is. Look at all the mass shootings we’ve had in the past five years alone. You really think the prevalence of and obsession with guns has NOTHING to do with that? At all?
            And in many of the shootings, be they mass shootings or smaller scale events, that I can recall, the shooters either killed themselves, which took the decision out of anyone’s hands, period, or were taken down WITHOUT law enforcement firing any shots. You talk about how if the “good guys” have guns (and who even determines who the “good guys” are? Law enforcement are “good guys” and yet we’ve seen how some of them have abused their power in recent months), they’ll be able to take down the “bad guys”. What if they miss? What if they accidentally hit an innocent person in the crossfire? What if the “bad guy” takes their gun and turns it on them? It’s like people never seem to think about those possibilities.
            As for the government, no argument here that it can be quite corrupt. But two things: 1.) I find it rather disturbing and unsettling that the first response to any sort of government corruption/overreach from some people is, “Let’s arm ourselves!” ‘Cause, y’know, it’s not like we don’t have any other non-violent means to make our voices heard.
            And 2.) The government today can press one button and send out a nuclear weapon if it so chooses. They have drones, and other massive military weaponry and craft. If you and other pro-gun folks honestly think your guns are going to be any sort of match for the weaponry the government can use in retaliation, well…that’s very optimistic of you, I’ll say that much.

          • Drew says:

            I don’t even know where to begin. Who chooses who gets to protect themselves and who doesn’t? Who decides who will be a part of this select few who gets to keep the government in check? The government? We are talking about a country that was built by people overthrowing an oppressive government. People who shouldn’t have stood a chance against one of the most powerful nations in the world. To argue that the Second Amendment means that the people don’t have a right to arm themselves is absurd.
            And you talk about “regulated” as though it means that there is meant to be government oversight. That is not what the phrase means (or meant at the time). It meant something along the lines of “functional”… meaning that the only way for the people to protect themselves against a corrupt government was to have a functional and capable militia.If you don’t believe me, look up other uses of the term from that time.
            I don’t understand why you are focusing on guns when it comes to these shootings. There are other aspects of these events, even those which don’t involve guns, which are similar. Mental illness. Drug abuse. Things which would be the same with or without guns.
            I am not going to play the “what if” game. What if someone invents a black hole in their basement and kills us all? What if unicorns poop glitter? You’re not basing your opinions on the available information, you’re basing it on the imaginings of your own brain. I’m not willing to rewrite the Constitution for the sake of your imagination. And yes, infringing the rights of the people to keep and bear arms would be rewriting the Amendment.
            .
            .
            okay, a little bit of “what if”, just because it’s fun…When it comes to whether or not the citizens could overthrow the government, there have actually been studies about that which suggest that they could. The politicians wouldn’t want to nuke the land that they want to control, so that’s out. The military is made up of men and women who would mostly refuse to take illegal action against citizens, so many of them would be jumping sides. Private contractors help build and maintain much of the equipment in use by the government, so that would come into play… There are a lot of factors that come into play. It’s all theory until something like that actually happens (as it has happened in the past, both here and in other countries), but it would be foolish to assume that it’s impossible. If a Hitler type rose to power in the US, you don’t believe that the people could stop him/her? You underestimate the citizens of this country.

  18. Susannah says:

    They were so young with their whole lives ahead of them and for someone to just take it from them because he was angry at losing his job… how does something escalate to such a horrible event? It’s just so tragic, I’m so sorry for their families.

  19. Steve F. says:

    Why is it that when some people lose their jobs, they decide to pick up a gun and take revenge on those who they feel wronged them? Disgusting…

    My thoughts and prayers to the families and coworkers of the victims.

  20. I don’t plan on watching the footage, the still pictures on CNN are enough to scare you.

    This guy was just like Cho. A sick individual who wanted kill those that wronged him, and he made an ominous statement just like Cho did. Both did the statements before they committed the actual heinous act. Cho, killing 32 people at Virginia Tech before killing himself. And this guy, killing the news reporters before fleeing 100 some miles to I 66 from the Roanoke area before shooting himself and later dying.

  21. PFitzDC says:

    Dear Team TVLine–Please remove the ad that pops up on this photo. It’s very disrespectful and the local ad that I just received was exceedingly inappropriate given awful topic. Thank you.

  22. Jim J. says:

    The lives of two young news-crew members wasted for no reason. The reporter who did the interview was just 24…It’s always sad and heartbreaking to see anyone younger than “The Simpsons” die. The life and career of a good news reporter cut short by an assassin. ;(

  23. Angela says:

    Haven’t seen the footage, and have absolutely zero desire to. How utterly horrifying for those who were unfortunate enough to witness it as it happened.
    My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who were killed. So very tragic and heartbreaking.

  24. dee123 says:

    Very sad.

    As someone who has duel citizenship living outside of the U.S. The comments about our country and it’s gun laws and why tragedy after tragedy nothing chances are um… not nice to say the least.

    I have no idea how to answer all of my co-workers questions. It’s embarrassing.

    • Angela says:

      I find it deeply embarrassing, too. I talk to a lot of people who live in other countries and they’re utterly baffled by this. They literally cannot wrap their heads around why we’re so gung-ho about protecting our guns every single time a mass shooting occurs.
      This country clearly has a problem when it comes to guns, a problem that other countries don’t seem to have to deal with anywhere near as often as we do. That should seriously be telling us something about the way we view and handle guns. It’s way, WAY past time we finally addressed and dealt with this issue.

    • Kit says:

      What you can tell your coworkers is that America has turned into a Country of whiny babies who feel the need to pick up a gun whenever someone hurts their little feelings. We have been conditioned to believe that if someone calls us a name and hurts our itty bitty little feelings that we should be offended, and that we are somehow damaged by this slight. Unfortunately when you combine those “justified” feelings with untreated mental illness (because treating that would be too embarrassing) you get a volatile situation and people do horrific things. It’s not guns we need to control, it’s the weight we give to everyone’s words and opinions.