A reporter and a cameraman for news station WDBJ7 were shot and killed Wednesday morning while filming a live broadcast in Moneta, Virginia. Video of the incident shows a reporter conducting an interview at a shopping center called Bridgewater Plaza when about eight shots ring out. Then, the camera drops to the ground and the newscast cuts back to a disturbed news anchor telling viewers that they are not sure what just happened. WDBJ7's general manager announced this morning that the reporter, Alison Parker, and the cameraman, Adam Ward, have died. Coworkers want Parker and Ward to be remembered for their loving spirits, and not for the horrifying video that is now circulating the Internet.
Update: The suspect, Vester Lee Flanagan, shot himself just before noon, after being chased by police.
According to WDBJ7, Parker was 24 years old and grew up in Martinsville, Virginia. She attended Patrick Henry Community College, and then James Madison University.
WDBJ7 news anchor Chris Hurst has since announced on Twitter that he and Parker were "very much in love," but that they hadn't yet announced the relationship publicly. He said that they had been together for almost nine months, and that it was "the best nine months of our lives." Hurst also said that he is heartbroken for Ward, who was going to move to Charlotte with his fiancée, another employee at the station.
When Parker first started working at the WDBJ7, the station created a YouTube video to "introduce" her to viewers. In the video, they ask her a series of questions about herself. Parker described a memorable trip with her family after she was asked "What is the most thrilling thing you've ever done?"
I took a trip to the Grand Canyon with my family, and we went horseback riding down the Grand Canyon. It was supposed to be a guided trail, and our tour guide said, 'Oh, I'll catch up with you,' and he never did. And once we got to the bottom the horses just took off because they had done that run so many times. They knew exactly where they were going, but it was a bumpy ride, very scary. My parents were praying that I was holding on and that I was OK, but we made it and it was really fun and I'll always remember it.
Parker said that her hobby is whitewater rafting, which she did with her family throughout the Martinsville and Hendrick County areas. In response to almost every question in the video, Parker talked about her family. She said that they have a huge love of the arts — her mother worked for Piedmont Arts in Martinsville, her father was a Broadway performer "back in the day," and she played the trumpet and the French horn while growing up. She also said that she's a huge fan of spicy Mexican food and loves the "dark" characters in TV shows — like Walter White from Breaking Bad and Don Draper from Mad Men.
The station's general manager, Jeffrey Marks, said that Parker and Ward were "special people," who did "great work every day":
How can this individual have robbed these families, the families of Allison and Adam, of their lives and their happiness and their love for whatever reason? They would brighten up a room every morning.
The shooter has been identified as Victor Flanagan, a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ7. Flanagan allegedly tweeted videos of the shooting through his Twitter account (which has since been suspended), where he goes by the name Bryce Williams, and said that he shot Parker because she made racist comments. He also tweeted that Ward had once reported him to human resources. Marks has since said that Flanagan's allegations of racism were investigated and were not substantiated.