Broadcasts continue in Roanoke, Virginia today after WDBJ lost two of their own journalists yesterday morning. Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, were shot and killed live on air yesterday morning.
Holding hands on the anchor desk and they held a moment of silence for Parker and Ward at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, which was just 24-hours after the two had been gunned down by a former coworker.
Parker’s boyfriend spoke with reporters on Wednesday night.
"I need the entire world to know that a woman as amazing as her exists and was taken too soon and our love is forever,” Chris Hurst, Parker’s boyfriend, said.
Ward’s fiance was a producer at the station and was celebrating her last day at work on Wednesday.
The shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan, also known by his television name of Bryce Williams, sent a fax to ABC News two hours after the shooting that said his tipping point was the church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, but that his anger had been “building steadily.”
He was let go from the station two years ago and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that went unfounded.
He was fired from numerous small television stations in the past, but left WDBJ with a warning that there’d be consequences for his firing that would make headlines.
Sarah Ornelas, a local attorney in western Massachusetts, said she’s not sure anything could’ve been done differently since such a long time had passed since he’d been fired.
“It’s just one of those horrible things,” she said. “It’s unfortunately that he decided to resort to violence and cause these people to die when he had very available legal remedies which he was already availing himself under.”
About 2 million American workers each year report having been victims of workplace violence. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 551 people were killed in work-related homicides from 2006 to 2010.
In Flanagan’s 23-page manifesto sent to ABC News, he wrote he had been a victim of racism and sexual harassment and that he had been mistreated and had had conflicts with both Parker and Ward.
Shortly after shooting the journalists, Flanagan shot himself.
“It might be, in part, considered a cry for help or way to seek attention,” Chief of Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center Stuart Anfang, M.D., said.
While it is not clear at this point if Flanagan suffered from mental illness, it is clear that he wanted to spread violence. He praised the Columbine High School and Virginia Tech mass killers in his final note, sent to ABC News.
“I think that in those cases, adequate treatment would’ve been very helpful,” Anfang said. “Certainly would’ve been helpful to identify what was going on. It might’ve been helpful in terms of initiating treatment.”
Anfang also said treatment could’ve helped recognize warning signs. Flanagan had warned WDBJ as he was escorted from the station two years ago that firing him would eventually make headlines.
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