Two television journalists shot in Virginia, suspect 'shoots himself'
A man suspected of shooting two US journalists on live TV in Virginia is under arrest after apparently shooting himself, police say.
Vester Lee Flanagan, a disgruntled ex-employee of WDBJ7 TV whose car was surrounded by police following a chase, has “life-threatening injuries”.
WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during an interview in the town of Moneta.
The gunman later uploaded a video of himself opening fire at close range.
The White House has urged Congress to rapidly pass gun control laws in the wake of this latest shooting in the US.
Viraaginia State Police said the suspect’s vehicle was spotted on the Interstate 66 highway, and crashed off the road following a chase.
“Troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound. He is being transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries,” the force said in a statement.
The ambulance and paramedics are surrounded by police officers and vehicles
The Twitter account of Flanagan, known professionally as Bryce Williams, suggested he held a grudge against Mr Ward, 27, whom he accused of lodging a formal complaint against him, and Ms Parker, 24.
And local media reported that he had filed a lawsuit against WDBJ7, alleging discrimination by the whole station and naming most of the staff in his complaint. The case is said to have been dismissed by a judge in July 2014.
Shots and screams
The attack on the journalists took place at a large shopping centre, Bridgewater Plaza, near Smith Mountain Lake.Ms Parker was starting a breakfast TV interview about tourism at the shopping centre when suddenly shots rang out, the camera spun and dropped to the ground, and her screams could be heard.
The footage then captures what appears to be a fleeting image of the gunman, who is wearing black trousers and a blue top – and holding a handgun.
The woman who was being interviewed, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, survived the attack and is reportedly in a stable condition in hospital following surgery.
Bryce Williams’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, which have now been suspended, subsequently showed video shot by the gunman, showing him raising a handgun, training it on the trio, and opening fire 14 times. The TV station’s own footage recorded only eight of the shots.
‘Our hearts are broken’
Staff at the TV station, which continued broadcasting after the live report, expressed shock and sadness at the loss of their colleagues.
“Alison and Parker died shortly after the shots rang out,” the station’s president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, announced on air.
“I cannot tell you how much they were loved by the WDBJ7 team… our hearts are broken,” he said.
WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst revealed that he and Ms Parker had been in a relationship and had planned to marry.
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. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother.”
He added that Ms Parker had worked on a regular basis with Mr Ward, and that he was heartbroken for his fiancee, a producer at the station.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest, speaking to reporters, urged the passing of new gun control laws.
“There are some common sense things that only Congress can do that we know would have a tangible impact on reducing gun violence in this country,” he said.
Reporter for WDBJ7’s Mornin’ show
Grew up in Martinsville, Virginia
Attended Patrick Henry Community College and the James Madison University, edited university newspaper The Breeze
In her spare time, liked whitewater kayaking and attending community theatre events
Was dating station anchor Chris Hurst
Graduated from Salem High School in Salem, Virginia, and Virginia Tech
Engaged to station producer.
WDBJ-TV president and general manager Jeff Marks said Flanagan was fired from the station two years ago, and that police were called to escort him from the building.
“Vester was an unhappy man,” Marks said during the station's noon newscast. “He had a reputation for being difficult to work with.”
Marks confirmed the deaths of the journalists in an on-air update shortly after 9 a.m.
“It is my very very sad duty to report … that Adam and Alison died this morning,” he told viewers. “I cannot tell you how much they were loved, Alison and Adam. Our hearts are broken.”
“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,” Hurst wrote in a series of tweets. “I am comforted by everyone at @WDBJ7. We are a family. She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee.”
Ward’s fiancé, Melissa Ott, worked as a morning producer at the station. According to Marks, Ott was in the control room at the time of the incident and saw the shooting happen live.
It was Ott’s last day at WDBJ. She had taken a job in Charlotte, and Ward was going to follow her.
“This was going to be a celebratory day,” Marks said. BBC/ Yahoo News
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