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TV reporter, photographer killed in on-air shooting

Posted at 8:06 AM, Aug 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-26 14:22:30-04

Two television journalists are dead after being shot during a live report on Wednesday morning. Their shooter, a former colleague of the pair, shot himself about five hours later and died at a hospital.

Reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward, of Virginia's WDBJ, died shortly after the shooting, which occurred at a shopping plaza just before 7 a.m. Eastern, according to The Roanoke Times.

Just after 11 a.m., law enforcement officials identified 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan as the shooter. According to The Roanoke Times, Flanagan worked at WDBJ under the name Bryce Williams. Flanagan was reportedly fired from the station in February 2013.

At 11:48 a.m., WDBJ reported that Flanagan shot himself on Interstate 66 in Fauquier County, Virginia. About two hours later, investigators confirmed that Flanagan died at a hospital in northern Virginia.

Police had been in pursuit of Flanagan since at least 10:30 a.m., when Virginia Governor Terry McAulliffe told WTOP radio that he was being chased on I-66 and that "his arrest should be imminent."

Flanagan's identity confirmed a comment made by McAulliffe, who had earlier told WTOP radio the shooter was believed to be "a disgruntled employee of the TV station."

At about 6:45 a.m., Parker, 24, was doing a live on-air interview at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake when gunfire was heard.

In live video of the incident, Ward's camera hits the ground and people can be heard screaming as shots ring out. As Ward drops his camera, Flanagan can be seen briefly, walking toward the victims and holding a handgun. The video then cuts back to WDBJ's studio anchor.

The Roanoke Times reported that Parker's interview subject, Vicki Gardner, was also shot but had survived and was in surgery shortly after. Gardner is head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.

According to Parker's bio at WDBJ7.com, she was a graduate of James Madison University and was a native of the Martinsville, Va. area. Station officials said Ward, 27, was a Virginia Tech graduate and was also originally from WDBJ's viewing area.

Shortly after the deaths of Parker and Ward were announced, WDBJ sent the following tweet.

At 9:31 a.m., Chris Hurst, a WDBJ employee with whom Parker was in a personal relationship, sent a heartfelt tweet about her death.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.