Washington: The father of reporter Alison Parker, who was shot to death on Wednesday along with her cameraman while doing a live news piece, said on Thursday that he will not rest until the US has a way to keep weapons out of the hands of mentally ill people.
"I'm not going to rest until I see something happen. We've got to have our legislators and congressmen step up to the plate and stop being cowards about this," Andy Parker told CNN, saying in several other interviews that people who are mentally unstable must be prevented from obtaining guns
Alison Parker, 24, worked for CBS affiliate WDBJ7 and was killed at 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday along with 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward by a disgruntled former workmate, Vester Lee Flanagan, known on air as Bryce Williams, while she was doing a live report at the Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Virginia, a rural town about 350 km southwest of Washington.
Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce who was being interviewed by Parker, was wounded in the shooting, WDBJ7 reported. Flanagan, who had been fired by the station two years ago, fled after the shooting and remained at large for more than five hours until he finally shot himself after being cornered by the authorities. He died later in a Virginia hospital.
"I'm for the second amendment but there has to be a way to force politicians that are cowards and in the pockets of the NRA to come to grips and have sensible laws so that crazy people can't get guns. It can't be that hard," said the reporter's father. In his statements to the media, Andy Parker rhetorically asked how many times more we were going to have incidents like this one before lawmakers take action to try and prevent shootings by mentally unstable people.
He noted a number of shootings and massacres over the past several years by mentally unstable people, including the one at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children died and after which President Barack Obama began pressuring legislators to approve more restrictive gun control laws. Obama's efforts so far have been unsuccessful and on Wednesday the White House insisted that it was urgent for Congress to act with "common sense" to reduce gun violence in the country.
In a Thursday press conference outside the television channel, the station's general manager, Jeffrey A. Marks, said that Flanagan, an African-American, worked from WDBJ7 from March 2012 and February 2013, and when he was fired he became enraged and had to be escorted from the building by police.
The gunman sent a 23-page fax to ABC News after the shooting, a video of which he had posted online, to justify his anger, which he said had been "building steadily" due to alleged cases of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, for which he had filed a lawsuit against the network, although it is not known whether that was the motive for the shooting.