TV news reporter, cameraman are fatally shot during live broadcast in Virginia; suspected shooter posts video of attack, then kills himself.
On Wednesday August 26th, Journalist Vester Lee Flanagan II emptied his gun into a 24-year-old ex-colleague and her cameraman from point-blank range, as a live audience watched the double homicide over coffee.
The remorseless killer actually videotaped the 6:45 a.m. slaughter, posting a 56-second clip on Facebook and Twitter before killing himself as Virginia State Police closed in about five hours later.
“Bitch,” he hissed just seconds before squeezing off the first shot at reporter Alison Parker. By the time the video clip ended, the sounds of another 14 gunshots were clearly heard.
Parker, despite a desperate sprint for safety, was pronounced dead at the Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Va. Gunned down alongside her was Adam Ward, 27, her cameraman and friend.
The shooting took place at about 6:45 a.m. ET at Smith Mountain Lake, about 35 miles from Roanoke. Killed were Parker, 24, a WDBJ7 reporter, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27. Vicki Gardner, executive director of a local Chamber of Commerce, underwent emergency surgery at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and was stable condition, the hospital said.
The station’s live broadcast showed Parker interviewing Gardner at the Bridgewater Plaza shopping center when, just off camera, shots rang out and Parker was heard screaming. The recording appears to include a glimpse of the gunman dressed in black.
Overton said police had not determined a firm motive for the attack. He said social media and other information indicated Franklin was “disturbed in some way” and that things in his life were “spiraling out of control.”
Overton said he had been watching the broadcast when the shooting took place.
“It stopped me in my tracks,” Overton said. “Like many viewers I was watching and couldn’t figure out right away what happened.”
Marks said his staff was stunned, but journalism continued amid hugs and tears.
Police say the suspect in the shooting of a reporter and photographer that happened on live tv is a former reporter at the station, WDBJ. Vester Lee Flanagan, a.k.a. Bryce Williams, allegedly shot himself after fleeing the scene.