Why Were The Virginia News Crew Team Shot At? Here's Everything We Know About The Suspect
Two members of a CBS affiliate news team in Virginia were killed on Wednesday morning in a shooting that broke out on live television. CBS News confirmed that 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward, both members of the WDBJ-TV news team, died shortly after shots were fired during their live newscast at the Bridgewater Plaza, a shopping mall in Moneta, Virginia. The Roanoke Times reported that Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Now, who was being interviewed on-camera at the time, was shot in the back and has been taken to surgery. Authorities are now searching for the shooting suspect, who reportedly fled the scene.
Update: The suspect, Vester Lee Flanagan, shot himself just before noon after being chased by police.
According to local news source WTOP, Virginia authorities said late Wednesday morning that they have identified the suspect. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe told the news station in a radio interview that authorities were "in pursuit of [the] suspect. We know who the suspect is."
The Virginia governor added that authorities believe the suspect was a "disgruntled" employee of WDBJ7. Authorities have yet to release the suspect's identity to the public, but McAuliffe said that state police were closing in on the alleged shooter, and had his license plate number.
Earlier Wednesday morning, numerous local news stations were sharing a screenshot from the WDBJ7 morning broadcast, which appears to have captured a fuzzy glimpse of the suspect as the camera fell to the ground. Local radio station K92 in Roanoke, Virginia, shared several versions of the screenshot with its social media followers Wednesday morning. The station urged its Facebook and Twitter followers to contact police immediately if they had any information.
The screenshots (posted below) appear to show a man dressed entirely in black. His face is somewhat obscured, due to the grain of the image.
In a televised address Wednesday morning, WDBJ7 General Manager Jeff Marks said the news station is still searching for answers: “We do not know the motive or who the suspect or killer is."
According to Marks, both Parker and Ward were romantically involved with WDBJ7 colleagues. Ward was engaged to the show's morning producer, Melissa Ott, who was celebrating her last day at the station on Wednesday. Parker was dating the station's evening host, Chris Hurst, who said on Twitter Wednesday morning that they were "very much in love."
"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?" Marks said. "They would brighten up a room every morning."