VA Live TV shooting: Fiancee talks about cameraman

roanoke virginia shooting victims

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) – The latest on the on-air killing of two TV station employees in Virginia (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

The fiancee of the cameraman who was killed in an on-air attack says her life has been “flipped upside down.”

Melissa Ott was engaged to WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward, who was gunned down alongside reporter Alison Parker on Wednesday morning. Ott, a producer at the station, was in the control room when the shooting happened and saw it unfold.

Ott was slated to soon start work at WSOC-TV, the ABC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina. She posted on her Facebook page that her plans, and her life, were now on hold.

“Starting new adventures with my fiance, new jobs, a new city. Getting married, having a family, buying a home. That’s now taken. I’m not ok. And I won’t be for a long time,” she said.

She says she is grateful for the outpouring of love and support she has received.


12:10 p.m.

The woman who survived an on-air shooting is doing better at a hospital a day after a disgruntled former reporter wounded her and killed a TV cameraman and a reporter.

Hannah Cline, a spokeswoman at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, said Vicki Gardner was in good condition. Gardner was being interviewed by Alison Parker when Vester Flanagan began firing. Cameraman Adam Ward was also killed in the attack.

Gardner is the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce. Parker and Ward were doing a story about the lake’s 50th anniversary.


12 p.m.

Police identified Vester Flanagan as a person of interest in the on-air shootings of three people based on a communication with a friend.

In seeking a search warrant for the car Flanagan was driving Wednesday, Virginia State Police had to give a magistrate in Fauquier (faw-KEER) County probable cause.

“Investigators identified Vestor Lee Flanagan II as a person of interested based on a text message sent to a friend making reference to having done something stupid,” police wrote. Flanagan’s first name is spelled several different ways in the document.

Police said they put out a lookout for Flanagan and the car was spotted in Fauquier County.

“When troopers attempted to stop the vehicle, the subject operating the vehicle failed to yield and was observed to place an object to his head,” police wrote. Flanagan shot himself in the head and died at 1:26 p.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital.


11:45 a.m.

An affidavit for a search warrant for the car of a man wanted in the on-air shootings of a local television reporter and videographer indicates the charges authorities were interested in pursuing against Vester Flanagan.

Virginia State Police wrote that Flanagan’s offenses included capital murder, first- and second-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, reckless handling of a firearm and disregarding law enforcement. In addition to Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who died early Wednesday, Flanagan shot a third person who survived.

Police were granted the warrant to search Flanagan’s car after he refused Wednesday to pull over in Fauquier (faw-KEER) County, then ran off the road and shot himself. He died about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at a trauma center.

Officers searched the car just before 5 p.m. Wednesday and reported their findings Thursday morning to Fauquier County Circuit Court.


11:15 a.m.

The disgruntled former reporter who killed a WDBJ-TV cameraman and a reporter on air sued the station a month after he was fired in early 2013, claiming racial discrimination.

Court documents from the lawsuit say the station fired Vester Lee Flanagan for poor performance and an unending stream of conflicts with co-workers.

When Flanagan was fired, he refused to leave and the station called police. New director Dan Dennison wrote that as Flanagan was finally being escorted out, he placed a wooden cross in Dennison’s hand and told him, “You’ll need this.”

The documents say cameraman Adam Ward recorded the incident and that Flanagan insults him and flips off the camera.

On Wednesday, Flanagan killed Ward and reporter Alison Parker.

In the suit, Flanagan, who is black, frequently mentions a watermelon that he saw at the station that he perceived as a racial slur.

In a letter to the judge, Flanagan writes, “How heartless can you be? My entire life was disrupted after moving clear across the country for a job only to have my dream turn into a nightmare. … Your Honor, I am not the monster here.”


11 a.m.

The man wanted in the on-air shootings of a local television reporter and videographer was carrying extra license plates, a wig, sunglasses and a hat when police tried to pull over his rental car.

A search warrant return for the car driven by Vester Flanagan on Wednesday in Fauquier County shows an inventory of the contents of the silver Chevrolet Sonic sedan. Police obtained the warrant and searched the car after they tried to pull Flanagan over. He ran off the road and shot himself, dying a short time later at a hospital.

Flanagan was traveling with a Glock pistol with multiple magazines and ammunition. He carried a white iPhone, as well as letters, notes, cards and a to-do list. It’s not clear what the to-do list said.

Police said they found a “briefcase w/3 license plates, wig, shawl, umbrella, sunglasses,” as well as a black hat.


9:40 a.m.

The boyfriend of a television reporter who was slain during an on-air interview says the two met at a Christmas party for WBDJ last year and hit it off. Their first date was New Year’s Day.

Chris Hurst is an anchor at the station. He was dating Alison Parker, who was fatally shot along with her cameraman on Wednesday by a disgruntled former reporter at WBDJ-TV.

Hurst said outside the station Thursday that he made scrambled eggs and a smoothie for Parker early Wednesday before her shift. He also packed her lunch.

“I’d never done that before for any woman, for anyone, but I wanted to do it for Alison because I loved her so much and I just took so much joy in something so minor as cutting strawberries for her.”

Hurst said they would text each other as they worked opposite shifts. She worked in the morning. He worked at night.

Her last message to him was “good night sweet boy.”

“It’s the last that I ever heard from her,” Hurst said. “I saw it before I went to sleep. And then a few hours later I woke up to some calls telling me to come to the station.”


7:40 a.m.

As WDBJ-TV broadcasts its morning show a day after two of its journalists were killed, people are stopping by two colorful memorials outside.

WDBJ was in the middle of its “Mornin'” show on Thursday. During the same show one day earlier, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were fatally shot by a former station employee who was fired in 2013.

Outside the station, the memorials are growing. They are full of balloons, flowers, candles and other tokens – even a Virginia Tech sweatshirt, because Ward was an enthusiastic fan.

During Thursday’s “Mornin'” show, WDBJ did at least one interview outside near the memorials. A reporter visiting from a sister station in Missouri to help out spoke with Tim Gardner, husband of Vicki Gardner. She was wounded in the shooting as Parker interviewed her about local tourism. Tim Gardner told viewers that his wife is improving and is in fair condition.

Nearby, reporters and trucks from media outlets across the country lined up, doing their own live shots or working on stories about the shooting and the station. Police also kept watch as bystanders walked by or visited the memorials.


6:45 a.m.

WDBJ-TV has observed a moment of silence on air for its two journalists who were killed in a shooting during a live interview.

The station marked the moment of silence at 6:45 a.m. Thursday. At that time Wednesday, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed by a former employee of the Virginia TV station.

During the moment of silence, WDBJ showed photos of the two victims during the live broadcast of its “Mornin'” show.

Just before the moment of silence, anchor Kim McBroom joined hands with weatherman Leo Hirsbrunner and anchor Steve Grant, who came in from sister station KYTV in Springfield, Missouri, to help the grieving station.

She said: “Joining hands here on the desk. It’s the only way to do it.”


6:40 a.m.

The family of the gunman who fatally shot a reporter and cameraman during a live broadcast has issued a statement offering condolences to the victims’ loved ones.

The statement from the family of Vester Lee Flanagan II, who went by Bryce Williams as an on-air reporter, was read on several TV stations, which said it was released by a family representative. Flanagan killed reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward on Wednesday morning. Vicki Gardner, a local Chamber of Commerce official who was being interviewed live, was wounded.

It says: “It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we express our deepest condolences to the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. We are also praying for the recovery of Vicki Gardner. Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the victims’ families and the WBDJ7 NEWS family. Words cannot express the hurt that we feel for the victims. Our family is asking that the media respect our privacy.”


6:30 a.m.

A moment of silence will be observed at WDBJ-TV at the time of the fatal shooting of two of the Virginia’s station’s employees during a live interview.

Anchor Kim McBroom said during Thursday morning’s broadcast that a moment of silence will be observed at 6:45 a.m. At that time Wednesday, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed by a former employee of the station.


6:20 a.m.

The husband of the surviving victim of an on-air shooting in Virginia says she’s doing better and is in fair condition.

Tim Gardner appeared Thursday on the “Mornin'” show of WDBJ-TV. His wife was being interviewed Wednesday for a live segment of the same show when a former station employee opened fire, killing a reporter and a cameraman.

On Thursday, Tim Gardner stood before a memorial set up to the victims outside the station in Roanoke. A reporter from a sister station in Missouri who came to Virginia to help grieving staff interviewed him.

Tim Gardener noted the support from friends and the community, and said anyone who wants to help can pray for his wife or go out and enjoy Smith Mountain Lake. Vicki Gardner is the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, and she’s been described as a champion for the area. She was being interviewed about local tourism when she was wounded.


6 a.m.

The boyfriend of a reporter killed in an on-air shooting appeared at the station where both worked on Thursday, telling his co-workers and viewers that he wants to tell his girlfriend’s story even as he grieves.

Station anchor Chris Hurst dated reporter Alison Parker. She and cameraman Adam Ward were killed Wednesday during a live interview segment on WDBJ-TV’s “Mornin'” show.

Hurst appeared on that same show Thursday at the anchor desk to offer a remembrance. He recalled how Parker’s voice could light up a room with its kindness and joy, and how excited she was about her work, including an upcoming piece on hospice care.

He said: “Alison, what great things she could have done.”

Hurst also said he will take a brief break from his anchor role.

Morning anchor Kim McBroom told Hurst that he and Parker “were like Barbie and Ken – just the perfect couple.”


5:45 a.m.

A grief counselor has joined the WDBJ-TV newscasters at the anchor desk for a morning-show segment the day after two station employees were killed in a shooting during a live broadcast.

Anchor Kim McBroom, her voice faltering at times during the Thursday newscast, called it “a show like no other.” She was on the air Wednesday morning just after reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were fatally shot during a live interview.

McGroom asked the grief counselor: “As a community, how do we take steps to move forward after something like this?”

Counselor Thomas Milam said it’s important to respect that people grieve in different ways and give them space to do so. He also said it’s important to comfort children who may have seen coverage or had their schools on lock down.


5:40 a.m.

During a live morning broadcast on WDBJ-TV, an anchor has read a statement from the father of the reporter killed on air just a day earlier.

Anchor Kim McBroom read the statement Thursday during the Virginia station’s “Mornin'” show. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward worked as a team for the show, and it was during a live segment Wednesday morning that they were fatally shot by a former WDBJ reporter.

The statement from Andy Parker says: “Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful and immensely talented Alison was taken from the world. This is senseless, and our family is crushed.”

The station displayed the text of the statement as McBroom read it.


5:20 a.m.

WDBJ-TV is broadcasting live for its morning show a day after two of its employees were killed by a former reporter at the Virginia station.

During the newscast, in a weather report, Leo Hirsbrunner recalled how one of the victims, cameraman Adam Ward, would check in with him every morning about the weather before he went out on assignment.

Hirsbrunner said: “I don’t even know how to do weather on a day like this.” His voice trembled at times while he finished giving the temperatures around the Roanoke area.

As the segment ended, anchor Kim McBroom told him: “Good job, partner. We’re going to get through this together.”

McBroom also read a statement from Parker’s family, her voice faltering as well.


5:10 a.m.

WDBJ-TV started its 5 a.m. newscast with an image of the two victims killed a day earlier in an on-air shooting with the words “In Memory.”

Anchor Kim McBroom said on Thursday morning, “We come to you with heavy hearts. Two of our own were shot during a live shot yesterday morning.” She noted the outpouring of support that followed the deaths.

“We’ve had a lot of help,” she added, before introducing Steve Grant, an anchor from a Missouri station who came to town to help.

The station then went into a series of news pieces on the shooting, including ones about the criminal investigation, church services and a vigil at the White House.


4:55 a.m.

The news team at WDBJ-TV is regrouping for its first morning newscast a day after two of their own were killed.

Morning anchor Kim McBroom briefly fought through tears as she prepared for the 5 a.m. newscast Thursday. She was on the air Wednesday when reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were fatally shot during a live interview.

On Thursday, McBroom was then joined on air by Steve Grant from sister station KYTV in Springfield, Missouri. While a few hugs were exchanged before the newscast, a dozen or so reporters and producers stayed focused on their work.

Senior Vice President of Broadcasting Marcia Burdick of parent-company Schurz Communications answered phones, greeted guests at the door, and did whatever she could to keep the newsroom moving.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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