TV reporter, cameraman killed - allegedly by disgruntled former employee who complained of victim going to HR
(Reuters) — Two television journalists were shot and killed in Virginia on Wednesday morning while conducting a live interview, and authorities said the suspect appeared to be a disgruntled current or former employee of the TV station.
Police pursued the suspect and in the late morning, an ABC local affiliate and CNN reported the suspected shooter had shot himself, but it was not known if he was dead or alive. The suspect was identified as Vester Flanagan, 41, according to a dispatcher for the Augusta County, Virginia, Sheriff's Department.
After the shooting of the journalists, someone claiming to have filmed it posted video online that appeared to be from shooter's vantage point.
The videos were posted to a Twitter account and on Facebook but were removed shortly afterward. One video clearly showed a handgun as the person filming approached the woman reporter.
The shooting occurred at about 6:45 a.m. EDT (1045 GMT) during an interview being broadcast live from Bridgewater Plaza, a Smith Mountain Lake recreation site with restaurants, shops, boating and arcades and holiday rentals.
The area is in the south-central part of the state, about 120 miles (190 km) from the capital of Richmond.
The journalists were filming an interview for the morning news show of CBS affiliate WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Va. In the broadcast, shots were heard and the reporter and the person being interviewed screamed and ducked for cover.
The reporter Alison Parker, 24, and the cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, died in the incident, WDBJ7 said. The woman being interviewed was wounded.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has taken the lead on apprehending the suspect, with help from state police and others, McAuliffe told WTOP.
"Heartbroken over senseless murders today in Smith Mountain Lake," McAuliffe said on Twitter.
Asked on CNN if the station had been targeted or had been threatened, WDBJ7 President and General Manager Jeff Marks said, "Every now and then you get a crazy email or something and we'll look into it. Nothing of this nature than any of us could recall."
He said the interview was to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Smith Mountain Lake, and the woman being interviewed was from the local chamber of commerce. She had been talking about the anniversary and tourism.
"We don't make a secret of where we report from, we may start now," Marks said.
The station's broadcast showed Parker interviewing Gardner about the lake and tourism development in the area. Gunshots erupted, and as Ward fell his camera hit the ground but kept running. An image caught on camera showed what appeared to be a man in dark clothing facing the camera with a weapon in his right hand.
The station said on its website that both the dead journalists were from the region.
They were both engaged to be married to other people.
Twitter posts by suspect
In posts on Twitter, a user named @bryce_williams7 (allegedly the shooter's on-air personality name), he said:
"Adam went to hr on m e after working with me one time!!!!"
"Allison made racist comments"
"EEOC report filed"
"They hired her after that???"