Virginia TV Murders: Cameraman’s Fiancée Watched Him Die
Two journalists were shot on live television this morning by a disgruntled former colleague. Both were engaged to be married.
WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot to death Wednesday morning by former colleague Vester Lee Flanagan, who recorded his attack. Station Manager Jeffrey A. Marks told CNN that Ward’s fiancée, a fellow producer at WDBJ, watched him die on air.
“It was her last day. She was moving on to a station in Charlotte,” Marks said, adding that they were planning to hold a celebration in her honor. Ward was reportedly planning to follow her soon.
The CBS affiliate was filming an interview in Moneta, Virginia, when the TV broadcast was interrupted by the sound of gunfire. Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, both died. A third victim, identified as Vicki Gardner of the local Chamber of Commerce, entered surgery this morning. She is reported to be in stable condition.
VIDEO: Watch WDBJ’s tribute to Parker and Ward.
In news station footage of the moments leading up to the attack, Parker is seen interviewing a woman about drawing tourism to a Roanoke-area attraction. Shots erupt suddenly, and Parker is heard screaming before the shot cuts away to the bewildered anchor.
People from around the globe said they were praying for Parker, Ward, and their families on her Facebook page. In a short bio posted on the page, Parker revealed that she grew up in Martinsville, Virginia, and had interned at WDBJ7 before landing a job there. Ward was a graduate of Virginia Tech. Facebook photos show him proposing to fiancée Melissa Ott.
Parker’s fiancé, a fellow reporter at the station, tweeted a moving tribute to her Wednesday morning.
“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 wrote. “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.”
Kody Leibowitz, a reporter at the local ABC news station, said he met Parker and Ward a few times while covering stories in the field.
“They were always friendly, very friendly people,” he told The Daily Beast.
William Pace, a friend of Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce employee Vickie Gardner, who was injured in the shooting, said Gardner was a dedicated advocate for the community.
“She is a wonderful person, a wonderful advocate,” Pace said.
— Additional reporting by Betsy Woodruff and Alexa Corse from Virginia.