Two Virginia TV journalists killed in on-air shooting, police pursue suspect
VIRGINIA – Two television journalists were shot and killed in Virginia on Wednesday morning while conducting a live interview, and authorities said police were pursuing a suspect who appeared to be a disgruntled current or former employee of the TV station.
The shooting occurred at about 6:45 a.m. EDT during an interview being broadcast live from Bridgewater Plaza, a Smith Mountain Lake recreation site with restaurants, shops, boating and arcades and holiday rentals.
The area is in the south-central part of the state, about 120 miles (190 km) from the capital of Richmond.
The journalists were filming an interview for the morning news show of the WDBJ7 TV station in Roanoke, Virginia. In the broadcast, shots were heard and the reporter and the person being interviewed screamed and ducked for cover.
The reporter Alison Parker, 24, and the cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, died in the incident, WDBJ7 said. The woman being interviewed was wounded.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in interview on Washington radio station WTOP that the suspected shooter had been identified as a disgruntled current or former station employee.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has taken the lead on apprehending the suspect, with help from state police and others, McAuliffe told WTOP.
“Heartbroken over senseless murders today in Smith Mountain Lake,” McAuliffe said on Twitter.
Asked on CNN if the station had been targeted or had been threatened, WDBJ7 President and General Manager Jeff Marks said, “Every now and then you get a crazy email or something and we’ll look into it. Nothing of this nature than any of us could recall.”
He said the interview was to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Smith Mountain Lake, and the woman being interviewed was from the local chamber of commerce. She had been talking about the anniversary and tourism.
“We don’t make a secret of where we report from, we may start now,” Marks said.
There was no word yet from the hospital on the condition of the woman, identified as Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Live television showed the interview abruptly ending with screams. An image captured from the camera showed a man holding a gun.
The station said on its website that both the dead journalists were from the region.
Parker grew up in Martinsville and attended Patrick Henry Community College and James Madison University, while Ward graduated from Salem High School and Virginia Tech, the station said.
They were both engaged to be married to other people. –Reuters