The Virginia news crew killed during a live interview included 24-year-old WDBJ7 television reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward. Both Parker and Ward grew up in the Roanoke area, attended high school there and later interned at the station. The Virginia news crew was a regular team covering stories for WDBJ7’s “Mornin” show. Their stories ranged on everything from breaking news to feature stories like child abuse. On Wednesday morning at 6:43 a.m., the team was on a live interview about tourism with local official Vicki Gardner at the outdoor shopping center in Moneta, Virginia, when the fatal shots rang out.
Adam Ward was planning on getting married and his fiancée, Melissa Ott, is the station producer. Ott was in the WDBJ7 control room when the fatal shots were fired, reports San Diego’s CBS News on August 26. This was Ward’s fiancée’s final day at work before leaving for her new job in Charlotte, North Carolina – and he had planned to follow her.
Ward’s fiancée, like many WDBJ TV viewers, witnessed live on TV how the man that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with fell – his camera falling from his shoulder and capturing a fleeting image of the suspect holding a handgun.
After the initial shots were fired and the camera fell, WDBJ7 had to cut back to its studio where anchor Kimberly McBroom was quite stunned, and WDBJ7 journalists would later have to continue broadcasting on the deaths of two of their colleagues. Anchor McBroom said that it was difficult to shield the morning show producer engaged to cameraman Adam Ward from what had just happened. “We (were) busy trying to keep her calm and hopeful. That was a very hard thing to do.”
Alison Parker’s boyfriend, Chris Hurst, is an evening anchor at WDBJ7, and he had also hoped to marry the love of his life. Hurst and Parker were living together. Since he anchored in the evenings and Alison worked in the mornings, Hurst would make his love breakfast, pack her lunch, and kiss her goodbye each morning.
“She would always text me, we would always be concerned, texting each other when we got to work safely. And she texted me, ‘Good night, sweet boy’ and that was the last that I had ever heard from her,” Hurst said.
“We were together almost nine months,” Hurst posted on Facebook. “It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday. She was the most radiant woman I ever met.”
Hurst was watching the live TV screaming and heard the first eight of 15 shots when his love ran and screamed “Oh my God!” as she falls to the ground.
The Virginia news crew killed on Wednesday morning by former WDBJ7 employee Vester Lee Flanagan II is leaving behind a legacy of love, dedication to their work, and the hope for change. After the senseless attack on Parker and Ward, President Barack Obama is repeating his call for tougher gun laws. “We’re willing to spend trillions of dollars to prevent terrorist activities, but we haven’t been willing so far at least to impose some common sense gun safety measures,” he said.
Alison Parker’s father, who has heard too much about “gun safety measures” after each mass shooting but never seen any changes, is saying that his daughter’s death shall not be forgotten: “I’m going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation — to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don’t get guns.”