UPDATED: Vester Flanagan, the suspect who gunned down a reporter and cameraman during a live broadcast in Roanoke, Va., early Wednesday morning (Aug. 26), has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police in Virginia.
Flanagan, who as a former reporter at local Roanoke station WDBJ TV went by the name Bryce Williams, was identified around mid-morning as the suspect in the 6:45 a.m. killings of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward as the pair were doing a live, remote interview with a member of the chamber of commerce for a story on tourism. .After remaining at large for several hours, Flanagan reportedly shot himself in the head but failed to kill himself.
Earlier in the day, before Flanagan was explicitly identified, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, in an interview with WTOP radio in Washington, said he had been on the phone with state police and they were in active pursuit of the suspect, who they had identified and believed to be a disgruntled former WDBJ TV employee. CNN later this morning reported that Virginia authorities were looking for Flanagan, a former reporter at the station who had been fired, though they were not identifying him as the suspect.
WDBJ station GM Jeffrey Marks had appeared on CNN earlier in the day to talk about the incident, saying it was senseless and devastating. Marks said he was in his car when the news director called to tell him what had happened on air. He said it appears that Ward was shot first and Parker as she tried to run away.
After Flanagan was identified, Marks said the reporter had a reputation for being hard to work with and was "looking for comments” to take offense at. He was eventually dismissed from the station, and police were called to escort him from the building. (RELATED: Flanagan's Resume on LinkedIn; WDBJ Ginman's Condition Unconfirmed), via broadcastingcable.com)
CNN aired a chilling photo of the suspect that came from Ward's own camera as the gunman stood over him pointing the gun downward, and asked viewers to contact authorities if they recognized him.
CNN initailly aired the video of the shooting, but said it would limit it to once an hour with a disclaimer about its disturbing nature. The video was also on the CNN website with a disclaimer. A spokesperson said they did not think anything was being edited out. CNN said it would not show the shooters' own point-of-view videos posted on Twitter and Facebook.
Fox News Channel refrained from airing the video, sticking with stills. An FNC spokesperson said that could change given that it is a breaking, and still-moving story, and said that the network would continue to evaluate that decision.
Marks said a pastor was at the station consoling staffers as they tried to continue doing their jobs while grieving.
UPDATE: The young reporter was apparently in a committed relationship with station anchor Chris Hurst, according to tweets Hurst posted.
Parker had been an intern at the station before being named the morning reporter, teamed with Ward. She also formerly worked at WCTI Jacksonville, N.C., and was a 2012 graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., where she studied journalism, was news editor of JMU's newspaper, The Breeze, and got hands-on experience in news production at ABC affiliate WHSV.
Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio, Television and Digital News Association, released a statement about the workplace tragendy, saying the association "is horrified and saddened by the senseless deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the two WDBJ employees [and] our most sincere sympathies go out to their families and friends and all who worked with them at WDBJ.”
Other professional associations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, also reacted to the killings.
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