"Our industry is in shock and a profound state of sadness. Thoughts & prayers for Alison, Adam and their families," shares WFLA's Steve Andrews, in the wake of this morning's madness when 24-year-old TV reporter Alison Parker and her photographer 27-year-old Adam Ward were shot to death during a live interview. "She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother," tweets WDBJ's Chris Hurst, who describes himself as having dated Parker for the past 9 months. Meanwhile, Ward was engaged to a WDBJ news producer. Hurst adds, "I am comforted by everyone at @WDBJ7. We are a family. She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee." The shooting took place at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Va. as Parker was interviewing the head of a local Chamber of Commerce--a woman who was also shot but now is in stable condition.
Ward's own camera footage captured a brief, murky glimpse of the shooter, who now appears to be a disgruntled former colleague. "How incredible the @WDBJ7 photographer was able to record the likely gunman before he died," marvels Chris Pabst with ABC 7 D.C. Later identified as Vester Flanagan (reportedly known as Bryce Williams on-air), the shooter appears to have filmed the act himself with a GoPro camera, the footage from which he then uploaded to Facebook and Twitter. "BREAKING: police are now searching for @bryce_williams7 aka Vester Flanagan, fmr. reporter for WDBJ," tweets CNN's Amy LaPorte. A police pursuit ended with Flanagan shooting himself and in critical condition, as of the last update, but not before he posted several telling tweets to Twitter, citing accusations of racism and other professional complaints. "It looks like he set up a Twitter account last week," notices CNN's Brian Stelter. Station manager Jeff Marks described Flanagan in a Guardian interview as "difficult to work with" and mentioned they "had to call the police to escort him from the building" after he was dismissed by his employers. "I don't know whether I want him to live or die," Marks also is quoted in Newsweek. Here's more of what we know about the 41-year-old alleged shooter.
But as many have rightly pointed out, we should be focusing on the legacy of Parker and Ward. Described by Raw Story as "a ‘rockstar’ journalist and a gregarious cameraman," they would "brighten up a room every morning," according to colleagues. Meanwhile, the Washington Post suggests Parker was "talented enough to make it to primetime." WDBJ 7 remained on the air today but aired touching tributes earlier, and a press conference will soon be accessible live here.
Now the conversation turns to finding sense in the senseless. "I wrote this after the Aurora gun massacre. Unfortunately it remains relevant after each new gun massacre," tweets The Atlantic's James Fallows. But is this a mass shooting? How much of this footage (if any) should media be re-airing or sharing? Did social platforms trigger or merely highlight one man's mad idea? Brace yourselves for the takes on that, and more.