Two TV station executives faced the media this afternoon taking questions about the murder of two of their employees on live TV Wednesday.
WDBJ general manager Jeff Marks and news director Kelly Zuber were asked if there were any warning signs about former employee Vester Flanagan, who shot Alison Parker and Adam Ward at point-blank range during a morning show liveshot.
Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams, worked at WDBJ for 11 months. And while some station staffers had seen Flanagan in the two years since he was fired, Marks said none of them raised any red flags about a grudge he may have held.
Marks says he was not aware whether Flanagan “had mental health issues, but he certainly had performance issues.” Marks says the human resources department made it mandatory for him to seek out the Employee Assistance Program “and he did on at least one occasion,” he said. “Vester’s behavior annoyed a lot of people in the newsroom,” Marks said, defending his station’s hiring practices. “I don’t think he was the strongest applicant we’ve ever had, but he passed muster of the news management at the time.”
Zuber joined the station five months after Flanagan had been fired. “I have the greatest news team,” said the grieving news director. “They have performed so well. They cry, they hug and then they get the job done.”
A reporter asked about Melissa Ott, (at left with Adam Ward) the morning show producer whose last day at the station ended with the murder of her fiancé. “Adam’s fiancée is in tremendous grief,” Zuber said.
“It is bad enough to find out your fiancé is shot. It’s worse to be the producer of the show where that happens live. This will be a long recovery for her.”