Two employees of Virginia TV station WDBJ7 were shot and killed during an on-air interview Wednesday morning by a former co-worker, who later took his own life after a brief chase with police.
Reporter Alison Parker, 24, was interviewing a member of the local Chamber of Commerce about tourism at Bridgewater Plaza in Roanoake, Vir., at around 6:45 A.M., when the interview ended abruptly with the sound of gunshots.
The station later announced both on the air and on its website that Parker, along with cameraman Adam Ward, 27, had been shot and killed. The woman being interviewed by Parker, Vicki Gardner, was also shot and is in stable condition in the hospital, according to NBC News.
WDBJ's official Twitter account sent out this tweet:
The suspect in the shooting is Vester Lee Flanagan, who had reported for WDBJ under the name Bryce Williams from 2012 to early 2013. Flanagan had worked at WDBJ for a little under one year, according to his LinkedIn page, until March 2013, when he was fired. Police say Flanagan shot himself on the side of Interstate 66 in Virginia's Faquier County, outside of Washington D.C, following a chase involving local law enforcement. Flanagan initially survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound and was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead later in the afternoon.
In a 23-page document faxed to ABC News, Flanagan wrote that the June shooting of a Charleston, S.C., church was the reason behind his attack, referencing shooter Dylann Roof's desire to start a "race war." Flanagan also claimed he was discriminated and harassed for being a black, gay man. He had previously filed a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, a Florida television station, in 2000. The case was settled outside of court.
Flanagan apparently posted disturbing videos of the shooting from the gunman's perspective, as well as messages referencing the shooting victims, to his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Facebook and Twitter have both suspended the account.
In an interview with TV station WTOP, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe says the gunman is believed to be a “disgruntled employee” of WDBJ, and that this was being treated as a criminal case, not terrorism. McAuliffe also called for greater restrictions on gun sales in the interview.
The two journalists had deep ties at WDBJ. Both grew up in the local area, and both were in relationships with fellow employees. Ward was engaged to marry a WDBJ producer, according to CNN, while anchor Chris Hurst tweeted he had just recently moved in with Parker.
We will update the story with more information as it becomes available.