Two members of a Virginia television news crew were killed Wednesday morning during a live broadcast by a disgruntled former employee of their TV station who shot himself shortly afterward as police pursued him.
The victims—cameraman Adam Ward, 27, and reporter Alison Parker, 24—were in the middle of an interview when they were both shot dead by 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II, a fellow journalist who went by Bryce Williams on air, authorities said. A third victim, who was being interviewed at the time of the shooting, survived and is in stable condition.
Shortly after the shooting, ABC News said it received a rambling 23-page fax from someone identifying himself as Williams, mentioning the June Charleston church shooting as a potential motive and saying the massacre at the historically black church “sent me over the top.”
Authorities apprehended Flanagan after spotting his vehicle and pursuing it. Flanagan refused to stop, and his vehicle ran off the road and crashed. Troopers found Flanagan with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and he later died at a hospital.
The shooting of the two journalists, who worked for WDBJ, took place at Bridgewater Plaza, a shopping center in Moneta, Va., and was captured on live TV. The video of the broadcast begins like any local news report, but turns grisly as Parker, the on-camera reporter, screams and a gun can be heard firing multiple times. The video ends with the camera on the ground before cutting to a clearly distressed anchor.
Another video that circulated on social media a few hours after the shooting appeared to show the attack as filmed from the point of view of the shooter. The graphic video, which was posted to Twitter and Facebook under the name Bryce Williams, shows the shooter pointing a gun at the victims, briefly turning away with the camera, and then opening fire. “I filmed the shooting see Facebook,” Williams posted on Twitter. The Twitter and Facebook accounts were quickly suspended late Wednesday morning.
Parker was a graduate of James Madison University and Ward graduated from Virginia Tech, according to the station. The third victim was identified by the Roanoke Times as Vicki Gardner, head of the local Chamber of Commerce.
In an impromptu broadcast, Jeff Marks, WDBJ president and general manager, described the pair as “two fine journalists.”
“I cannot tell you how much they were loved by the WDBJ team,” he said. “Our hearts are broken.”
Shortly after the shooting, WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst said on Twitter that he and Parker had been dating.
Ward was engaged to producer Melissa Ott, according to the WDBJ, and was working in the station’s control room at the time of his death.