Two Journalists Killed During Live Broadcast in Virginia

Two journalists were killed earlier this week during a live report for Virginia news station WDBJ by a disgruntled employee.

Reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward were in the midst of conducting a live interview with Vicki Gardner, the head of a local Chamber of Commerce at the Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta when they were gunned down. Parker and Ward died at the scene while Gardner was taken to a local hospital where she is expected to recover.

Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, was quickly identified as the shooter after posting a video of the shooting on his social media accounts. The videos were taken down almost immediately. Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, was a former reporter for WDBJ but had been fired two years ago for regularly clashing with other journalists and for “biased reporting.”

While reporting on the 2012 Presidential Election, Flanagan showed up to the taping of a live segment wearing an Obama sticker. A move that the station called a clear breach of journalistic impartiality.

Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton announced later in the day that Flanagan had died. He suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a car chase with Virginia State Police. Authorities had earlier reported that Flanagan was in critical condition.

Virginia State Police described in an earlier statement how the shooting suspect led authorities on a car chase down Interstate 66. Flanagan refused to stop the vehicle, ran off the road and crashed.  When authorities approached the vehicle they found him with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was taken to Fairfax Inova Hospital in Northern Virginia with “life-threatening injuries.”

Flanagan had taken to Twitter and Facebook to complain about Parker and Ward, saying that Parker had made racist remarks and that Ward requested to work with Parker instead of him after only one assignment. He also faxed a 23-page document to ABC News two hours after the shooting, stating that the Charleston shooting in June was his “tipping point.” He bought a gun two days later.

“Why did I do it? I put a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15,” he wrote in what he called a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family,” according to Telegraph.co.

A vigil was held last night for Parker and Ward in Virginia, and a separate service was held to support Gardner who underwent surgery.

 

About Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn is a recent graduate from City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in The Buffalo News, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times 'Fort Greene Local', The Daily Meal, and FoxNews.com.
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