Around 6:45 a.m. this morning, during a routine live shot on WDBJ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Virginia’s Roanoke/Lynchburg area, a gunman opened fire killing reporter Alison Parker and her photographer Adam Ward.
WDBJ reports police are searching for the suspect.
In the video you can hear Parker, who just turned 24, conducting an interview with Vicki Gardner, head of the local Chamber of Commerce, about a development project at Bridgewater Plaza near Moneta, Va., when gunshots are heard.
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Gardner was also shot and is in surgery. Alison Parker had been dating the 6 and 11 p.m. anchor at WDBJ, Chris Hurst, who tweeted this:
We didn’t share this publicly, but @AParkerWDBJ7 and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb. pic.twitter.com/tUrHVwAXcN — Chris Hurst (@chrishurstwdbj) August 26, 2015
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 (@chrishurstwdbj) August 26, 2015
The Radio TV Digital News Association responds: “RTDNA is horrified and saddened by the senseless deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the two WDBJ employees. While the shootings are under investigation, our most sincere sympathies go out to their families and friends and all who worked with them at WDBJ.” – Mike Cavender, executive director. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was on WTOP radio saying the suspect is believed to be a former WDBJ employee.
More: The suspect has been identified as Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of the station, who recorded a video of the shooting himself and posted it to his Facebook page. Facebook has already removed that posting. He was tweeting following the shooting as well, but Twitter has since suspended his account.
TVSpy reports Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams as an on air reporter, was fired from WDBJ in 2013 and that employees were given police protection for a time due to his erratic behavior. He had joined WDBJ less than a year earlier, in 2012. As law enforcement closed in on him this morning, he shot himself and is in critical condition, reports WDBJ.
Update: The sheriff’s office confirms Flanagan died around 1:30 p.m. of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Today we received news that no family should ever hear,” Parker’s family said in a statement. “Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful, and immensely talented Alison was taken from the world. This is senseless and our family is crushed.”