Ex-Newsman Kills Virginia TV News Team

Yesterday morning, Virginia TV journalists, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, were shot on air in an attack staged by a former colleague. That colleague Vester Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams, recorded the on-air attack which he later released on Facebook.

WDBJ-TV journalists, Alison Parker (l) and Adam Ward (r).

WDBJ-TV journalists, Alison Parker (l) and Adam Ward (r).

Parker and Ward had driven to the resort town of Smith Mountain Lake to interview Vicki Gardner, president of a local chamber of commerce for the early morning show.



Vester Flanagan, 41, shot his victims in a manner calculated to puncture the membrane between news and its consumers. The man who craved an audience, according to his colleagues, achieved the “fame” that eluded in life.


Vester Flanagan's image was captured by the mortally wounded WDBJ photographer Adam Ward.

Vester Flanagan’s image was captured by the mortally wounded WDBJ photographer Adam Ward.

In a scene eerily echoing Paddy Chayevsky’s critically acclaimed film masterpiece, ‘Network,’  gunfire erupted as Parker was interviewing Gardner. In that instant, Ward dropped his camera, and even though Parker ran away her screams never faded, as she ran with her microphone still live. The broadcast cut back to the studio, where a news anchor sat with her mouth hanging slack. With those shots Flanagan had his audience.


While on the run, Flanagan posted his first-person shooter video on Facebook but not before teasing it on Twitter, “I filmed the shooting see Facebook.” Twitter administrators later removed the posting.


Almost five hours later, a state trooper caught up with Flanagan about 200 miles away from the shooting in northern Virginia on Interstate 66. As Flanagan sped away, police gave chase.  Flanagan then veered off the road into a ditch and shot himself to death. Police later confirmed his death.


Outside WDBJ7’s studio, people left flowers, balloons, and trinkets in a makeshift memorial for the victims.


Parker and Ward were young journalists working for WDBJ7 in Roanoke, on the western part of Virginia. They were 24 and 27 years old respectively, and both planned to marry other colleagues soon.


Flanagan left rambling social media posts claiming workplace slights, racism and homophobia drove him to his act of madness. He even alluded to the Charleston, South Carolina church killings as a motivating factor. Friends said that Flanagan’s life seemed to spiral downward after his mother died in 2009.


Like many New Yorkers, Governor Andrew Cuomo was shocked and saddened by the senseless murder of two members of the media who were simply doing their jobs.


“This tragedy is the latest in seemingly endless, painful reminders that we must confront the rampant gun violence in our communities, said Governor Cuomo in a statement.


Calls for better gun control measures were echoed Americans across the nation.

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