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Roanoke Reporter Alison Parker Shot Dead Live On-Air

by Sam Kaplan - The Oregon Herald Wednesday August 26, 2015    8:37 AM

ROANOKE, Virginia: - Two employees of a local CBS affiliate were shot and killed live on air near Roanoke Virginia this morning. They were Adam Ward, 27, a camerman, and Alison Parker, 24, a reporter.

Suspect takes own life

A third victim, who was being interviewed at the time of the shooting, was shot in the back and is in hospital.

Becky Coyner with dispatch and records at the Augusta County Sheriff's Office says the suspect is 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II, of Roanoke.

It appears that the suspect fired approximately 8 shots from a semi-automatic pistol. The FBI have joined the investigation.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has said the suspect's arrest is imminent. He says police are in pursuit on the interstate, and he says the suspect is believed to be a disgruntled employee of the station, WDBJ-TV.

The station employees were killed in incident Wednesday morning at a shopping center, where an employee with the local chamber of commerce was being interviewed. The station says that person was injured in the shooting.

The Virginia TV station that saw two of its employees fatally shot during a live broadcast has identified a third person who was injured during the shooting.

WDBJ-TV says on its website that Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce was injured in incident Wednesday morning. She was being interviewed by reporter Alison Parker around 6:45 a.m. about tourism. Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has said the arrest of a suspect in the shooting is imminent. He says police are in pursuit of the suspect, believed to be a disgruntled employee of the station, on the highway.

The general manager of a Virginia TV station that saw a reporter and cameraman fatally shot during a live broadcast says his employees have been told to stay in the building, with police protection.

Jeffrey Marks, the president and general manager of WDBJ-TV, said hours after the Wednesday morning shooting that police advised employees to stay inside.

"Police have advised us that as long as this person is on the loose, we should stay in the building. We have police protection."

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has said police are pursuing a suspect on the highway. He says authorities believe the suspect is a disgruntled TV station employee. Federal law enforcement is assisting in the manhunt, and federal officials say they have no indication that the shooting was connected to terrorism.

Marks says about 50 people work at WDBJ7.

He says: "It's the kind of place where it's all brothers and sisters. We're all just real heartbroken."

Marks says a nearby TV station that is normally a competitor is covering other, unrelated news and will share video with the station.

McAuliffe says that law enforcement personnel have a photo of the suspect and that he was known to the victims.

WDBJ spokesman Mike Morgan says 27-year-old Adam Ward was engaged to a producer at the station, Melissa Ott.

Morgan says Adam had been with the station for four years.

Morgan says: "Adam was our go-to guy. He pretty much was available to do anything that we asked. He did live shots during our morning show for several years."

Alison Parker was dating the station's 6 p.m. anchor, Chris Hurst.

Hurst tweeted: "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."

He also tweeted about the second victim, Ward, saying that Parker "worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee."

Marks said on air that neither the station nor officials know the motive for the shooting or any identify of a suspect. He says he has talked with authorities and they are working diligently to find out.

In the video of the incident, as the camera falls to the ground, it captures a fleeting image of a man in black pants and a blue top who appears to be holding a handgun. Marks said on air: "I cannot tell you how much they were loved. Alison and Adam."

The station is based in Roanoke, Virginia, and serves the southwest and central part of the state. The shopping mall where the incident happened is just off Smith Mountain Lake.

Moneta is about 25 miles southeast of Roanoke.

According to the station website, Parker was a morning reporter. She graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and was news editor of its recognized newspaper, The Breeze. She also had been an intern at WDBJ-TV.

The TV station also linked to her Facebook page, which says Parker spent most of her live outside Martinsville, Virginia.

Parker previously worked at WCTI NewsChannel 12 in Jacksonville, North Carolina, near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. She was an avid kayaker and attended community theater events in her spare time.

Reporter and victim Alison Parker in her earlier video "sleep" report: video report link

Update

Vester L. Flanagan II, who police say killed two WDBJ-TV journalists while they were on air, died at a hospital Wednesday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Franklin County, Virginia, Sheriff Bill Overton told reporters.

Flanagan, a former WDBJ reporter, killed two of the Roanoke TV station's employees, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, live on air before fleeing in a gray 2009 Ford Mustang to Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. There, he ditched the Mustang and drove away in a Chevrolet Sonic that he had rented earlier this month, Overton told reporters.

Just before 11:30 a.m., Virginia State Police saw Flanagan's car headed east on Interstate 66. With emergency lights activated, a trooper initiated a traffic stop, police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

The driver refused to stop and sped away before running off the road and crashing, Geller told CNN. Troopers found the driver inside. He had suffered a gunshot wound. He was transported to a nearby hospital, Geller said.

Authorities tracked Flanagan's cell phone to locate him, according to federal officials and the Augusta County Sheriff's Department.

Flanagan was a reporter at WDBJ for about a year using the on-air name, Bryce Williams, according to a former WDBJ employee. He was fired from the station, though the reason was not made public, the ex-employee said.

"Two years ago, we had to separate him from the company. We did understand that he was still living in the area," WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said.

Manifesto: Revenge for Charleston church shooting ABC News reported that it received a fax Wednesday containing a 23-page manifesto from someone named Bryce Williams, according to a tweet. The document was handed over to investigators, ABC said.

The network posted an article reporting some of the manifesto's contents. They show Flanagan alleging that he had been the victim of bullying and discrimination because he is gay and black.

He also said he was compelled to respond to Dylann Roof's massacre at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in June and he was inspired by both Seung-Hui Cho, who orchestrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and the teens behind the 1999 Columbine High School killings.

"I've been a human powder keg for a while...just waiting to go BOOM!!!!" ABC quoted the manifesto as saying. "You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE ...(deleted)!!!"

Overton told reporters that authorities are still investigating Flanagan's motive and are looking into his past employment.

"This gentleman was disturbed in some way," the sheriff said. "At some point in his life, things spiraled out of control."

He said the manifesto indicates "where the gentleman's mind was the night before, or what was taking place there. There was some forethought given as to the chain of events that would happen."

Photo: Reporter 24-year-old Alison Parker and Adam Ward, 27, shot dead on air near Roanoke Virginia this morning.
Photo 2: Alison Parker, 24, a reporter.
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