Re­porter, cam­era­man killed on air; po­lice chas­ing sus­pect

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

A tele­vi­sion re­porter and cam­era­man were shot to death on the air dur­ing a live broad­cast Wed­nes­day morn­ing in Vir­ginia by a gun­man the gover­nor de­scribed as a dis­grun­tled sta­tion em­ployee who was be­ing chased by po­lice on a nearby high­way.

Re­porter Ali­son Parker was in­ter­view­ing an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cial around 6:45 a.m. about tourism on Bridge­wa­ter Plaza in Franklin County, look­ing at the up­com­ing 50th an­niver­sary fes­tiv­i­ties for Smith Moun­tain Lake. The sta­tion said in a tweet shortly be­fore the shoot­ing that Parker was look­ing into the plan­ning process for a cel­e­bra­tion.

She was work­ing with cam­era­man Adam Ward, said Jeffrey A. Marks, gen­eral man­ager of WDBJ-TV.

Parker was smil­ing when sud­denly at least eight shots were heard. Parker screams, runs and can be heard say­ing, “Oh my God.”

As the cam­era drops to the ground, it cap­tures what ap­pears to be a fleet­ing im­age of the shooter. The per­son is wear­ing black pants and a blue top and ap­pears to be hold­ing a hand­gun.

The sta­tion then switches back to a shot of an an­chor back at the sta­tion, who ap­pears shocked and says, “OK, not sure what hap­pened there. We will of course let you know as soon as we find out what those sounds were from.”

Dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on WTOP-FM’s “Ask the Gover­nor” on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Gover­nor Terry McAuliffe said that law en­force­ment per­son­nel have a photo of the sus­pect and that he was known to the vic­tims.

McAuliffe said the shooter was be­lieved to be a dis­grun­tled em­ployee of the TV sta­tion and was be­ing chased by po­lice on In­ter­state 64. The gover­nor said his ar­rest should be “im­mi­nent.”

“They’re right be­hind him,” McAuliffe said.

Fed­eral law en­force­ment is as­sist­ing in the man­hunt, and fed­eral of­fi­cials say they have no in­di­ca­tion that the shoot­ing was con­nected to ter­ror­ism.

Parker just turned 24 and at­tended James Madi­son Univer­sity, where she was the editor of the school’s news­pa­per, The Breeze. She also had been an in­tern at WDBJ-TV.

Ac­cord­ing to her Face­book page, Parker spent most of her life out­side Martinsville, Vir­ginia. She was an avid kayaker and at­tended com­mu­nity theater events in her spare time.

Her boyfriend, WDBJ an­chor Chris Hurst, said they hadn’t shared their re­la­tion­ship pub­licly but “were very much in love.” He said they had just moved in to­gether and wanted to get mar­ried. She had just fin­ished a spe­cial pack­age on child abuse for the sta­tion, he said. “I am numb,” he said. The sta­tion’s web­site says Ward was 27 and a grad­u­ate of Vir­ginia Tech. He was en­gaged to a pro­ducer at the sta­tion, Melissa Ott, said WDBJ spokesman Mike Mor­gan.

“Adam was our go-to guy. He pretty much was avail­able to do any­thing that we asked,” Mor­gan said. “He did live shots dur­ing our morn­ing show for sev­eral years.”

The sta­tion is based in Roanoke, Vir­ginia, and serves the south­west and cen­tral part of the state. The shop­ping mall where the in­ci­dent hap­pened is just off Smith Moun­tain Lake in Moneta, about 40 kilo­me­ters (25 miles) south­east of Roanoke.

Po­lice have told em­ploy­ees of the sta­tion to stay in­side the build­ing as long as the sus­pect is on the loose. About 50 peo­ple work there, Marks said.

“We have po­lice pro­tec­tion,” Marks said.

AP

This screen­shot from WDBJ-TV7, in Roanoke, Vir­ginia, shows re­porter Ali­son Parker and pho­tog­ra­pher Adam Ward.

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