Police: Man who killed 2 WDBJ employees has died

MONETA, Va. (WISH) – Police say the former employee of WDBJ shot and killed a reporter and photographer Wednesday morning at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake during a morning live shot is now dead.

According to Franklin County Sheriff Department’s Spokesperson Phillip Young, the shooting occurred at the Bedford County-Franklin County line in Moneta at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Police say there were three victims.

Virginia State Police (VSP) told WDBJ the suspect killed himself on Interstate 66 Fauquier County. However, they then retracted and said the man was still alive after he shot himself.  He was taken to the hospital and was later pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m., police told the media during a press conference.

Watch the full press conference below. 


The governor of Virginia confirmed to the media that the shooter is a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ. He was identified as Vester Flanagan. He went by the name Bryce Williams on air.

According to WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks, the shooting incident involved one of their crews. He said a photographer and reporter died. The shooting reportedly occurred during their live shot.

VSP say around 11:30 a.m. they spotted a suspect vehicle headed eastbound on I-66. VSP attempted to stop the vehicle but the suspect in the car sped away. A few minutes later they found the car ran off the road and crashed. Police found the driver inside suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to the hospital for life-threatening injuries. VSP said they believe the driver is Flanagan.

WDBJ confirmed the victims of the shooting were 24-year-old Alison Parker and 27-year-old Adam Ward.

This photo is from WDBJ's live report where a suspect opened fire on three people. (Provided Photo/WDBJ)
This photo is from WDBJ’s live report where a suspect opened fire on three people. (Provided Photo/WDBJ)

As the camera fell to the ground during the shooting, the audience caught the briefest glimpse of a man who appeared to be pointing the gun.

The station then cut back to the studio.

Parker was interviewing a Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce member Vicki Gardner during their morning newscast when the shooting occurred. Garnder was shot in the back. She was out of surgery and was in stable condition, CNN reported.

The station is asking for your prayers during this difficult time.

It is believed the gunman fired about six or seven shots, according to Marks.

Kay Norred former news director at WHSV in Harrisonburg Virginia where Parker interned told 24-Hour News 8 that “She was an amazing young woman.  A graduate of JMU.  She is from Roanoke.  It was her dream to report for a station in her hometown.  I am so glad she achieved that dream.  My heart breaks for her family this morning.”

Hundreds of people began reaching out to WDBJ on their Facebook page to share their condolences.

Parker is the morning reporter for the Roanoke station and a native of Virginia, CNN said. She started her career at WDBJ as an intern, according to her BIO on the stations page.

She is a graduate of James Madison University’s School of Media Arts and Design in Harrisonburg.

Co-worker Chris Hurst shared this tweet following the announcement of Parker’s death.

WDBJ said that Ward was engaged to be married to a morning show producer at WDBJ and Ward recently told her, “I’m going to get out of news. I think I’m going to do something else.”

The station said Ward was also from the Roanoke area. Ward was a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.

WSLS-TV and CNN contributed to this report. 

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