A manhunt was started after two members of a Virginia news team were murdered on Wednesday during a live TV broadcast near Roanoke, Virginia. Governor Terry McAuliffe told WTOP radio station that the suspect was a disgruntled former employee and is suspected to be in custody very soon. The station said the shooting took place at about 6:45 a.m., at Smith Mountain Lake, a resort about 35 miles from Roanoke. Killed were WDBJ7 cameraman Adam Ward, 27, and reporter Alison Parker, 24. A woman being interviewed on live TV was wounded. According to WDBJ-TV, Ward graduated from Virginia Tech. Parker, who grew up in Martinsville, Va., was a recent graduate of James Madison University.
Alison Parker was interviewing a woman at about 6:45 a.m. when shots rang out. Both women screamed. As the camera fell to the ground, the audience caught the briefest glimpse of a man who appeared to point a gun toward the downed cameraman. The station cut away to a shocked anchor, Kimberly McBroom, back in the studio.
The suspect identified as Vester L. Flanagan remains on the loose. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has joined in the manhunt, while the ATF and FBI are participating in the investigation. Area schools are on lock down. WDBJ7 general manager Jeffrey Marks said it appears that Ward was shot first and that Parker was shot attempting to flee. “We do not know the motive,” Marks said. “We do know the Franklin County sheriff … they are working very diligently to track down both the motive and the person responsible for this terrible crime against two fine journalists,” he said during the station’s coverage of the shooting. In addition to the deaths of Ward and Parker, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine said that a woman by the name of Vicki Gardner had been “seriously injured” in the shooting.
There are no words to express how heartbroken I am by the senseless tragedy in Moneta,” he said in a statement. “My deepest sympathies go out to the loved ones of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as well as the entire WDBJ family. I ask everyone to join me in praying for Vicki Gardner… and all of the local authorities and first responders who are working hard to find the perpetrator of this horrific crime.”
In response to the shooting, the New York Police Department said it was sending officers to TV stations across the city as a precaution. Chris Hurst, a reporter for the station, tweeted that he and Parker “were very much in love” and had just moved in together after dating nine months, “the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday.” He continued, “She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother.”