August 26, 2015

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Two journalists were fatally shot this morning by a disgruntled former colleague while on assignment for a feature story in Moneta, Virginia. The journalists, reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward, worked for WDBJ, a CBS affiliate in Roanoke, according to CBS News.

The primary suspect in the shooting is Vester Flanagan, who was known as Bryce Williams during his tenure at the station. Flanagan on Wednesday took to Twitter to launch a tirade against “Adam” and “Alison,” making reference to grievances against both employees. He also posted a first-person video of the shooting on Facebook and Twitter before both social networks took down the footage.

After driving along I-66 in Fauquier County, Virginia, Flanagan shot himself, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the hospital earlier this afternoon, The Washington Post reported.

Earlier Wednesday, news organizations broadcast a video of the shooting that shows Parker interviewing a woman during a live shot for a story about a local recreational plaza. At the end of the video, shots and a scream are heard before the camera falls abruptly.

ABC News reports that the network received a 23-page fax from Flanagan “sometime between last night and this morning” that staffers have turned over to authorities.

Tributes to Parker and Ward began circulating on Twitter as news of their deaths spread:

Jeff Marks, WDBJ’s general manager, appeared on-air Wednesday morning to provide details of the shooting. Parker and Ward’s loss has been felt immediately by the station, he said.

“You can hear people in the newsroom crying,” Marks said. “We cover these things all the time, but this is different…we’ve lost two friends, two co-workers.”

Marks says the station has decided for the moment not to run a video of the shooting, but Parker and Ward’s colleagues will continue reporting on their deaths “through the tears.”

Marks says staff meetings are scheduled this afternoon to update everybody at the station on the ongoing situation.

Chris Hurst, an anchor for WDBJ, was in a relationship with Parker. He mourned her loss on Twitter, calling her “radiant” and said the recent time they spent together were “the best nine months of our lives.”

Well-wishers began placing flowers outside WDBJ’s station Wednesday:

Broadcast journalists have been targeted by criminals in recent months. Last year, KCEN meteorologist Patrick Crawford was shot while leaving the station in Bruceville-Eddy, Texas. Multiple journalists have also been mugged for their valuable equipment while on the job in the Bay Area.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Parker and Ward were engaged. In fact, Ward was engaged to a morning show producer at WDBJ. Parker was in a relationship with Hurst, an anchor for WDBJ.

Related: Covering Your Own Story: A Conversation with WDBJ Staff

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

More News

Back to News