These Photos Of Adam Ward & Alison Parker Are The Images We Should Be Sharing
What began as just another day on the job turned tragic for two local Virginia journalists on Wednesday. During a routine interview at the Bridgewater Plaza shopping center in Moneta, Virginia, a gunman opened fire and killed WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. The suspect, whom authorities have identified as Vester Lee Flanagan, is reportedly a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ7 who was fired after about a year. Flanagan cut short the lives of two bright young people who had their whole futures ahead of them. Judging by their photos, the two colleagues were happy at work and in life, and that's exactly how Alison Parker and Adam Ward should be remembered.
Just before 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Parker was interviewing local Chamber of Commerce head Vicki Gardner as Ward filmed, when Flanagan allegedly ambushed them and began firing. Parker and Ward died from their wounds, while Gardner underwent emergency surgery, and is now in stable condition. After being pursued and confronted by police, Flanagan turned his gun on himself. He died at a hospital hours after the shooting.
Shortly after the shooting, WDBJ7 had the difficult task of making the announcement during a live broadcast. General Manager Jeffrey Marks said:
I cannot tell you how much they were loved, Alison and Adam, by the WDBJ7 team. Our hearts are broken and our sympathies go to the entire staff here, but also the parents and family of Adam Ward and Alison Parker, who were just out doing their job today.
He also called Parker and Ward "special people" who did "great work every day."
And that's exactly how they should be remembered — not for the gruesome way in which they died, but for the vibrancy with which they lived. As their photos illustrate, Parker and Ward loved their job at WDBJ7.
Kimberly McBroom, an anchor at WDBJ7, described Parker as a "rock star," telling The Guardian:
She really has done a wonderful job reporting and filling in anchoring. You throw anything at that girl and she could do it.
In May 2014, Parker told The Roanoke Times that she'd had a lifelong connection with WDBJ7:
I grew up watching WDBJ7. So it’s wonderful be back [sic] in Virginia and to be a part of the news team here.
Colleagues have offered equally positive descriptions of Ward, whom Marks called "a fine photojournalist." He told The Guardian:
[He was] 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.
WDBJ7's morning meteorologist, Leo Hirshburner, also remembered the pair fondly:
We get here really early in the morning and when we get in, they just make this newsroom come alive.
Both Parker and Ward found love at work. Parker was dating WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst, who posted several heartbreaking messages to social media on Wednesday following her death. In a Facebook post, he called her "the most radiant woman I ever met" and revealed that they had just celebrated her 24th birthday together.
Ward was engaged to the station's morning producer, Melissa Ott, who had celebrated her last show earlier Wednesday morning. They had plans to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, to begin a new chapter in their lives.
If you want to honor Parker and Ward and their memories, don't watch the video of the shooting. Instead, remember them as the happy, young journalists who lit up WDBJ7 every day on the job.
Image: Alison Parker News/Facebook