WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward was out in the field on a routine assignment early Wednesday morning, his camera on his shoulder for a live interview, a light feature story on a shopping plaza in Smith Mountain Lake. But the real story of the live broadcast quickly turned terribly dark and tragic.
The 27-year-old news shooter, as a videographer is often called in the business, was soon to capture a fleeting image of a different kind of shooter — a gunman who opened fire on Ward, the reporter with whom he was working, and the Chamber of Commerce official being interviewed. Before the gunman stopped firing and fled, as many as seven or eight shots were sent flying from very close range.
As Ward fell, mortally wounded by the surprise attacker, his video camera — still sending a live picture out over the air — pointed at the man authorities believe pulled the trigger around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday. As Western Journal reported, horrified viewers of the early news on the Roanoke, Va., station witnessed the shocking sneak attack that would leave the cameraman and reporter Alison Parker, 24, dead at the scene. The third victim of the shooting is said to have gone into emergency surgery for a bullet wound to her back.
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Local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel were quickly in pursuit of the suspected gunman, identified by the local sheriff’s department as 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan. Fox News reports that Flanagan used to be an on-air reporter for the station, working under the name Bryce Williams.
A number of news outlets, including CBS News, are reporting that the suspected gunman has taken his own life, possibly with the same gun he used to murder the young reporter and videographer. A Twitter account thought to have belonged to the alleged shooter has been suspended, but not before a shocking video was posted in which the fatal ambush was apparently recorded, first-hand, on a cellphone camera.
After the news crew killings had been confirmed, a heartbreaking image of the young reporter and her photo-journalist friend was shared on Twitter:
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Image Credit: Twitter/Shawn Reynolds
It was a screen grab from the video taken by the dying TV station employee’s camera that purportedly showed the shooter, pistol in hand, helping authorities to identify the suspect.
Image Credit: Twitter/Lauren Zakalik
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