Ashton Marra Published

Two Va. TV Station Employees Shot During Live Broadcast


The general manager of a TV station in Virginia says two crew members were fatally shot on air in central Virginia.
Jeffrey A. Marks, general manager of WDBJ-TV, identified the two killed as Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Parker was 24, Ward 27.

The station says in tweets and in a story on its website that the incident happened Wednesday morning at a shopping center on a lake in Moneta.

Update: 3:02 p.m.:

Officials say they don’t yet know a motive in the fatal on-air shooting of a reporter and a cameraman from a TV station in Virginia.

Authorities say they know the suspect, Vester Flanagan, was a former employee at the station, WDBJ-TV. They say they don’t know if the shooting was racially motivated. Flanagan was black and had formerly complained about racial bias at the station.

Flanagan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the Wednesday morning shooting. He went by Bryce Williams on the air. 

Update: 3:00 p.m.:

A law enforcement official says the suspect in the on-air shooting of two TV station employees died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Franklin County Sheriff W.Q. “Bill” Overton Jr. gave that detail Wednesday during a news conference.

Officials say suspect Vester Flanagan died at 1:26 Wednesday at a hospital in northern Virginia. Authorities say the man killed his former co-workers – reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward – during a live broadcast for WDBJ-TV on Wednesday morning outside a shopping mall.

The station has said Flanagan went by Bryce Williams on the air. While he worked at the station, they say, he was angry and difficult to work with. He was fired. 

Update: 12:20 p.m.:
As the Virginia TV station that saw a reporter and cameraman fatally shot in a live broadcast went live for its noon broadcast, the station shared more details about the suspect.

WDBJ-TV said Wednesday that suspect 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II appeared on air at the station as Bryce Williams.  

Video of the shooting was posted on the Twitter account and Facebook page of someone under the name Bryce Williams. The video showed an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Parker as she tried to run away.

Also, ABC News reported that someone using the name Bryce Williams sent the organization a lengthy fax that it has turned over to authorities.

WDBJ-TV general manager Jeffrey Marks and an anchor spoke to viewers for the Wednesday broadcast, several hours after the early morning shooting. They told viewers more about the victims –  reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. They spoke about the victims as family members at the station. Both were dating co-workers.  

Update: 11:45 a.m.:
An official has identified the suspect in the fatal on-air shooting of a reporter and cameraman from a TV station in central Virginia.

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.  

The suspect has not yet been apprehended by police.

Original Post 10:50 a.m.:

The incident was caught on video. In it, Parker is interviewing someone about tourism on Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County. She was smiling when suddenly at least eight shots were heard. The camera appeared to be dropped on the ground. The reporter can be heard screaming.

The station then switches back to a shot of an anchor back at the station, who has a shocked expression on her face.

Marks later appeared on the air and said neither the station nor officials know the motive for the shooting or any identify of a suspect.

Later, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe identified the shooter as a “disgruntled” TV station employee. 

McAuliffe said on a WTOP radio show police are pursuing the suspect on westbound I-64 and an arrest is “imminent.”

Marks said employees of the Virginia TV station are now being told to stay in the building are are being provided with police protection.

The station is based in Roanoke, Virginia, and serves the southwest and central part of the state. The shopping mall is just off Smith Mountain Lake.
Moneta is about 25 miles southeast of Roanoke.