Gunman Kills Reporter, Cameraman During Morning Live Shot Near Roanoke (UPDATE: Suspect Is Former Anchor)
Two Roanoke, Va., journalists were shot and killed during a live shot while doing an innocuous story on local development at the Bridgewater Plaza marina and retail center near Smith Mountain Lake.
WDBJ7’s reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, died in the 6:45 a.m. incident.
Police were searching for the shooter, dressed all in black and captured on the cameraman's final footage.
The woman Parker was interviewing, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was reportedly shot in the back and taken to surgery.
In the video, Parker and Gardner are speaking against a railing overlooking the complex. The shooter walks up and starts firing without a word. Ward swings his camera over to the gunman before collapsing, and the station cut back to the studio.
Local schools were put on lockdown as cops hunted in the area for the killer. The FBI's Richmond field office was reportedly on scene.
Find this man! pic.twitter.com/6vVxP0JoVq
— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) August 26, 2015
Most frightening thing I've seen in a while. Gunman who shot Roanoke, VA news crew pic.twitter.com/pHkI915QqO
— Shawn Reynolds (@ShawnRTV6) August 26, 2015
— jaye11alive (@jayewatson) August 26, 2015
— Chris Hurst (@chrishurstwdbj) August 26, 2015
UPDATE 11:30 EST: The suspect has been identified as Vester Flanagan, who uploaded a video of the shooting on Twitter under his on-air name, Bryce Williams. Twitter has removed the account.
Flanagan, 41, is a former news anchor fired from the Roanoke station in February 2013. He's in a 2009 gray Ford Mustang, plate WZE 8846. More:
In the tweets, Flanagan hinted at possible motives for the shooting. He tweeted about filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint and alleged that the reporter had made racist comments. "They hired her after that???" he Tweeted. The slain producer, he claimed, complained to HR about him after working together one time. His final text tweet boasted about filming the attack.
— Morning Express (@MorningExp) August 26, 2015
Caught this screen shot on Vester Flannigan's Twitter account before suspended - illuminates possible motive. pic.twitter.com/92LjpkwSPz
— Mikey Kay (@MikeyKayNYC) August 26, 2015
Alison Parker, the reporter, formerly worked at WCTI Channel 12 in Jacksonville. Vester Flanagan was the weekend anchor at Channel 9.
— Brian Colligan (@briancolligan) August 26, 2015
UPDATE 11:50 a.m. EST: Flanagan has reportedly shot himself.