TV reporter, cameraman shot dead on-air by a disgruntled ex-worker

Aug 26, 2015, 19:36 IST | PTI

Washington: A woman TV reporter and a cameraman were shot to death on live television when a "disgruntled" ex-employee of the TV station opened fire in the US state of Virginia and fled but was taken into custody with life-threatening injuries after apparently shooting himself. 

Alison Parker, 24, a reporter for WDBJ television news channel, and Adam Ward, 27, a cameraman, were interviewing a woman about a shopping plaza in Moneta, a small community near Roanoke city -- some 400 kilometres south west of Washington DC -- when they were shot by the gunman identified as Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, of Roanoke.

The gunman is believed to have fired six or seven times, WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said.

After the shooting Flanagan fled but was later found by police in his car with gunshot wound.

"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," police said in a statement.

Flanagan previously worked for WDBJ under the name Bryce Williams. He was hired at the station in the spring of 2012 after working at stations in San Francisco and in Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia. WDBJ let him go in February 2013, Roanoke Times reported.

In May 2014, Flanagan filed suit against the station in Roanoke General District Court, seeking money he felt he was owed and additional damages. His suit alleged discrimination by the station and named most of the WDBJ staff in his complaint, but in July 2014, the case was dismissed.

Video of the shooting was later posted on the Twitter account and Facebook page of Bryce Williams. It showed an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Parker as she tried to run away.

Part of the incident was caught on video during WDBJ TV's morning broadcast as the shocking viewers saw the grisly drama on their TVs.

The station was interviewing Vicki Gardner, head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. Gardner was shot at his back and is currently battling for his life in a hospital.

Flanagan was believed to be disgruntled with the TV station.

According to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, since 1992 five journalists have been killed in the US. 

This year so far at least 39 journalists have been killed worldwide with France, South Sudan and Syria, being the most deadly countries. 

"The thoughts and prayers of everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were injured or killed in that terrible incident," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference. 

This is another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small all across the United States, Earnest said in response to a question.

"While there is no piece of legislation that will end all violence in this country, there are some common-sense things that only Congress can do that we know would have a tangible impact in reducing gun violence in this country, and Congress could take those steps in a way that would not infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans," he said.

"The President's long advocated Congress taking those steps, and the President continues to believe that they should do so," he said. 

According to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, since 1992 five journalists have been killed in the US. This year so far at least 39 journalists have been killed worldwide with France, South Sudan and Syria, being the most deadly countries. 

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