Here's WDBJ7 Employees' Response To The Tragic Shooting That Took The Lives Of Their Coworkers
On Wednesday morning, a positively horrifying shooting took place in Virginia, leaving two local news employees dead: 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward of WDBJ7, a local CBS affiliate. The pair were allegedly killed by 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of WDBJ7 whose social media profiles and 23-page manifesto suggest that he had vengeful personal motives for the killings. Flanagan died in the hospital, hours after shooting himself. Here's what people at WDBJ7 are saying about the crime, the victims, the shooter, and this devastating day.
As detailed by Newsweek, WDBJ7 general manager Jeff Marks commented on Flanagan's tenure at the station, and on the losses of Parker and Ward, whom he called "the kindest and nicest people who worked here." About Flanagan, he said:
He was sort of looking out for people to say something he could take offense to. After many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him and he did not take that well. We had to call the police to escort him form the building.
Marks also made it clear that he's conflicted about Flanagan's fate. When the alleged gunman was in critical condition from his suicide attempt, Marks admitted on-air that he doesn't know which outcome he'd prefer.
I’m going to step out of my role as a former journalist and say I’m not sure whether I want him to live or die. If he dies, then he took the coward’s way out. And if he lives, he goes on trial and goes to prison for the rest of his life.
... I’m speaking way out of turn, but I think I’m expressing what viewers think and what the co-workers of Alison and Adam think. If he lives, he’s due due process — and this could all be a mistake, but I doubt it. We’re hurt enough that we want to express our anger and love for Alison and Adam.
Parker's passing was also mourned by Chris Hurst, an anchor at WDBJ7 whom she'd been dating for nine months. The romance seemingly wasn't altogether public, as Hurst noted in a post on Facebook, but he says that they were "very much in love," and that he feels numb in the face of her death:
We didn't share this publicly, but Alison Parker and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb. We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday. She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother. I am comforted by everyone at WDBJ7. We are a family. She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee. She is our morning show producer. This is unconscionable. But I WILL share her story because it is one full of life, dreams, love and amazing journalism. She just finished working on an incredible special on child abuse and it was fantastic. We will get through this and there will be justice. Your thoughts and prayers mean the world to me.
Parker was also fondly remembered by WDBJ anchor Kimberly McBroom, as detailed by The Guardian. McBroom called Parker a "rockstar" who could handle anything asked of her:
She was a rockstar here at WDBJ. She really has done a wonderful job reporting and filling in anchoring. You throw anything at that girl and she could do it.
Parker wasn't the only one survived by a beloved partner, either — Ward was engaged to WDBJ7 producer Melissa Ott, who''d been working her last day for the station when she witnessed her fiance's on-air death.
McBride also stated that there were "a lot of good things happening to Adam," and Marks remembered him like this, according to The Guardian:
He proved himself to be just a fine photojournalist, and the kind of guy who [when he] was on his way home from work and heard about something breaking, he would just turn around and go do it,
The station's morning meteorologist, Leo Hirshburner, told The Guardian that Ward, despite it being extremely early in the morning, would wake everyone up with talk about Virginia Tech football or whatever else he was thinking about. Hirshburner said:
We get here really early in the morning and when we get in, they just make this newsroom come alive.
In short, it's a grim state of affairs, one which Marks summed up like this, according to CNN: "Our hearts are broken. We have people walking around here in tears, lots of hugs."