A More Detailed Look of Suspected Virginia Gunman Emerges

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Could the distressing pictures of Alison Parker help stop the slaughter of Americans with guns?.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the photo depicting the final moments of Alison Parker’s life said remarkably few, if anything at all.How much, if any, of the shocking sights and sounds should newsrooms report when two people are murdered on live television and the video whips around the world on the Web?WDBJ sent a news crew to a high school football game Friday night, the first live event the station has covered since a reporter and cameraman were shot to death on the air Wednesday morning.

ROANOKE, Va.: The woman who survived the on-air shooting that killed two TV journalists says she never saw the gunman walk up to the group because the camera’s bright light blinded her.Roanoke: The gunman who killed two Virginia television journalists on air carried out a well-planned assault and identified with mass murderers and the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, authorities said on Friday. It is an image that has the power to render you entirely speechless; it makes you want to turn away, or clamp your eyes tight shut, as if doing so might stop the inevitable from happening. The shooting victims, Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, were public faces in the tight-knit community of Roanoke, so the killings were on everybody’s mind as Northside High faced Pulaski County in the season opener.

The shooter, Vester Flanagan, gave no sign of his destination or next move when he fled after gunning down the journalists from Roanoke station WDBJ7 on Wednesday, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “It is evident that Wednesday morning’s attack was well-planned and premeditated” and Flanagan apparently acted alone, the statement on the shooting investigation said. At first, like many others, I did not want to see the pictures that were unwittingly captured by Parker’s employer and I certainly didn’t want to see the ones that had been captured by her murderer. Seeing or hearing disturbing events could leave them too shaken to follow the rest of a story.” Videos of the murders — one from the camera Ward was using and another taken by the killer that he posted on social media — were not put on NPR.org. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, vowed to press ahead with legislation on background checks for gun buyers, although the Republican-led legislature has rejected his gun control efforts.

It all seemed so exploitative and voyeuristic, not to mention encouraging to any other maniacs who might happen to have a thirst for blood and notoriety. Other details from the release: Investigators recovered two handguns, both Glocks, from the rental vehicle Flanagan crashed on I-66 in Fauquier County before killing himself. But then I heard the impassioned plea made by Parker’s father, Andy, for US gun legislation to be changed, and I realised that the rights and wrongs of publishing his daughter’s photo as she was murdered were not what we should be discussing.

The morals and ethics of media outlets are not the real issue here, and debating them only stops us from addressing the true problem: the routine slaughter of American civilians with guns. Flanagan, a former reporter at WDBJ, was fired from the station in 2013 for poor performance and conflicts with co-workers, who said he was always claiming to be the victim. Inside the subcompact four-door sedan — a far cry from his usual ride, a 2009 Ford Mustang — police found a wig, a black hat, a shawl, sunglasses and a to-do list. Parker’s boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst, said Parker went on an assignment with Flanagan when she was an intern and innocently remarked that her friend lived on “Cotton Hill Road.” Flanagan accused her of making a racist remark, something he apparently did often. “She did not really know what he was upset about, specifically.

How, then, did NPR decide to broadcast — once — the sounds of the shots that killed Parker and Ward, with screams that could be heard in the background? Video later posted to social media sites belonging to Flanagan shows the gunman approaching Parker and photographer Ward as the reporter conducted a routine interview for a local story. The 50 or so workers have been described as a close-knit group, and they have continued reporting on their slain colleagues in the face of the tragedy. “There are too many guns in America and there are clearly too many guns in the wrong hands,” the governor said. Parker’s boyfriend, not yet ready to take a stance on gun laws because he is a journalist, instead remembered the couple’s whitewater kayaking trip just one week ago. “We went past a special place on the river where she turned to me and she said, ‘Chris, this is where I want to get married. He not only posted a video of the killing, but also faxed a long letter to ABC News in which he claimed a number of things, including being discriminated against.

Before police walked him out of the building, Flanagan handed his manager a small wooden cross and said, “You’ll need this.” • Earlier this summer, Flanagan was involved in a road rage incident. He cited seemingly innocuous comments as discriminatory, such as “an intern asking where I would ‘swing by’ for lunch.” “The average person would not perceive those everyday comments as insulting or injustices,” said Mary Ellen O’Toole, a former FBI profiler. “But clearly, he does. McLaughlin, Ben Brumfield, Ryan Nobles, Pamela Brown, Jason Hanna, Ashley Fantz, Carol Costello, Brian Stelter, Mariano Castillo, Drew Griffin and Patricia DiCarlo contributed to this report.

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