Deadly On-Air Shooting in Roanoke, VA

A Roanoke VA news report at Bridgewater Plaza about the growth of the area was brutally interrupted by gunshots this morning. CBS affiliate WDBJ7 sent a crew to interview Vicki Gardner about the development, when shots were fired from behind the camera in their direction. At least six shots were fired, during which the camera turned toward the assailant who was briefly caught on tape.

Police are at the scene of crime, little besides the live broadcast is known about how the events unfolded.

Update: The suspect, identified potentially as a former employee of the station by Governor of Virginia, is being pursued on the Interstate 81, near the I-64. An arrest is apparently imminent. Schools in the vicinity are currently on lockdown. The suspect has not been named though the police are aware of his identity. The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office alert was issued for a Lester Lee Flanighan (spelling not known), but it is not officially confirmed that this is the suspect. Other sources identify the person in the footage as Vester Flanagan.

Two deceased victims have been confirmed and identified; Alison Parker, 24, was the reporter of the segment, and Adam Ward, 27, was the cameraman.

Brian Stelter, of CNN, has said that Ward was engaged to a morning producer, and it was her last day at work today as they were moving to Charlotte. Gardner, the subject of the interview is indicated to be in surgery currently.

In response to this incident the NYPD is reported to have said they will increase police presence around stations in New York, confirmed by ABC.

Update: Parker’s partner, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst also revealed that they had wedding plans too, and had recently moved in together. 

In the wake of this shooting, Gov. McAuliffe also called for improved gun control, especially commenting on background checks: “There are too many guns in the hands of people who should not have guns”.

UPDATE (Alex Veeneman) – 17:28 BST: The French news agency Agence France-Presse reports the suspect, identified as Vester Flanagan, a former station employee, is in critical condition in hospital, citing reports from Virginia State Police. 



UPDATE (Alex Veeneman) – 17:35 BST: The Virginia State Police has issued a statement via Facebook, saying the shooter is in hospital, after a crash after not stopping for a state trooper.

Franklin County Shooting Suspect In CustodyShortly before 11:30 a.m., Virginia State Police spotted the suspect…

Posted by Virginia State Police on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

UPDATE (Alex Veeneman) – 18:09 BST: During the daily press briefing, Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, quoted by the Reuters news agency, said the incident in Virginia is an example of gun violence in the country becoming all too common. 

Meanwhile, the interviewee on WDBJ this morning, Vicki Gardner, is said to be out of surgery. Kettle has reached out to a hospital spokesperson to clarify updates on her condition. In addition, it was also reported the suspect, acting under the name Bryce Williams, submitted on Tuesday evening a 23 page fax to the US television network ABC. Kettle has reached out to ABC for comment.

The Virginia State Police are to hold a press conference at 19:00 BST, according to a report from the BBC.

UPDATE (Alex Veeneman) – 18:17 BST: Facebook has told Kettle that the profile of the shooter and a page related to the shooting has been removed for violations of their community standards. Facebook’s standards indicate that users are not allowed to celebrate crimes they have committed, under criminal activity.

UPDATE (Alex Veeneman) – 18:25 BST: The Society of Professional Journalists, a US journalism advocacy organisation, has issued a statement on the shooting. Paul Fletcher, the president-elect, said “the senseless loss of these lives is tragic.”

UPDATE (Alex Veeneman) – 22:31 BST: The suspect died at 18:30 BST due to injuries, according to remarks from the sheriff in Franklin County, Virginia. The sheriff also confirms that Vicki Gardner, the interviewee, was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

UPDATE (Alex Veeneman) – 22:38 BST: ABC did not respond to Kettle’s request for comment, but a report from the USA Today newspaper indicates that the network turned over the documents to police.