At TV station, grief, shock

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP News in Brief at 9:58 p.m. EDT.

Colleagues of two murdered Virginia journalists wept, wore ribbons, held hands — and returned to work Thursday in the office where some watched the killings live. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring joined several hundred Roanoke-area residents Thursday night at a candlelight vigil outside television station WDBJ to remember station employees Alison Parker and Adam Ward. ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — On the day he was fired from a Virginia TV station, Vester Flanagan pressed a wooden cross into his boss’ hand as two police officers walked him to the door. “You’ll need this,” he said. Your support has been a lifeline for us.” Hirsbrunner, wiping away tears, honored the pair during his forecasts. “The sun will shine just as bright today as Alison and Adam,” he declared at one point. But what authorities found in his car hints he considered remaining on the run: a briefcase with three license plates, a wig, a shawl, an umbrella and sunglasses.

More than two years later, Flanagan — fulfilling a threat to put his conflict with co-workers into “the headlines” — gunned down two station employees during a live morning broadcast, one of them a cameraman who had filmed his firing. But as station employees struggled Thursday to explain the events that framed Flanagan’s anger, others who had run across the gunman in the time since he lost his job at WDBJ-TV described a man whose hair-triggered temper was increasingly set off by slights that were more often imagined than real. A former co-worker at a call center where he worked until late 2014 recalled how her off-hand comment that the often boisterous Flanagan was acting quiet led him to try to grab her by the shoulder, and tell her never to talk to him again. Reminders of the lost colleagues were everywhere, from the balloons given to Ward’s fiancée on Wednesday to mark her last day at the station to the cameraman’s car still parked in the lot.

As authorities continued to investigate the shooting, family, colleagues and residents tried to cope with the brazen incident that hit the small southwest Virginia city — and figure out whether anything could have been done to stop it. At a bar in Roanoke, the manager recalled Flanagan was so incensed when no one thanked him as he left that he sent a nearly 20-page letter, lambasting employees’ behavior. Station General Manager Jeffrey Marks received 819 emails along with an uncounted number of phone calls from journalists around the world offering their condolences. NEW YORK (AP) — In an era when anyone can go online and find video of terrorist beheadings, police shootings and other carnage, major news organizations applied their own standards to coverage of this week’s killing of a TV news crew in Virginia and showed only carefully selected portions of the footage.

Marks, after reading an 11-paragraph statement about the station’s strange relationship with killer Vester Lee Flanagan, acknowledged he remained perplexed by the fired employee’s violent outburst. They were difficult newsroom decisions, informed by competitive pressures, questions of newsworthiness and taste, and an understanding that for all the talk about the great convergence of media, a fundamental difference still exists between TV and the Internet. “We went back and forth on this — whether to run it, not run it, or just use frame grabs,” said Al Ortiz, CBS vice president of standards and practices. “It’s not a decision you make lightly.

Despite Flanagan’s rambling 23-page manifesto explaining his murderous motives, his old boss was stumped as to what went on after the February 2013 firing. The TV station’s footage and the gunman’s were watched online in full by countless numbers of people around the globe as news executives decided what to show. Parker, 24, was interviewing a local chamber of commerce leader, Vicki Gardner, about the most benign of events — the 50th anniversary of the Smith Mountain Lake tourist community — when the shots rang out early Wednesday.

Before the shooting was three hours old, CNN began showing WDBJ’s footage of Parker conducting an interview and then trying to scramble away as gunfire erupted. WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump has exposed anew the deep rift inside the Republican Party on immigration, a break between its past and the country’s future the party itself has said it must bridge if the GOP ever hopes to win back the White House. Outlined in a so-called “autopsy” of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama, it called for passing “comprehensive immigration reform” — shorthand for resolving the status of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally.

Those plans ran aground in the GOP-controlled House, falling victim to the passionate opposition among conservatives to anything they deem “amnesty” for such immigrants. Flanagan, 41, who had a troubled career at several news outlets, also stopped to send a 22-page letter to ABC News, saying he had suffered years of discrimination, and that the June shootings of black Bible study group members at a Charleston church had sent him “over the top.” He called the document a “suicide note.” He texted a friend after the killings, according to the search warrant affidavit, saying he had done “something stupid.” The chase ended some 200 miles from the shooting scene, when he shot himself in the head, police said in the document. Some Republicans then hoped candidates with more moderate positions on immigration — such as Jeb Bush, the Spanish-speaking former Florida governor, or Sen.

And after walking door to door in the historic Treme section of a city reborn from tragedy, he cautioned that “just because the housing is nice doesn’t mean our job is done.” JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Sixty years after a black Chicago teenager was killed for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi, relatives and civil rights activists are holding church services and movie screenings to remember Emmett Till. They’re also trying to continue the legacy of his late mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who worked with young people and encouraged them to challenge injustice in their everyday lives.

It’s a message that Deborah Watts, a distant cousin of Till’s, sees as relevant amid the killings in recent years of young black men such as Trayvon Martin in Florida and Tamir Rice in Ohio. CLEVELAND (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday drew parallels between terrorist organizations and the field of Republican candidates for president when it comes to their views on women, telling an Ohio audience her potential GOP rivals were pushing “out-of-date” policies. “Now extreme views about women? We expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world,” Clinton said. “But it’s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States, yet they espouse out-of-date and out-of-touch policies,” she added at a rally with 2,800 people in Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University. “They are dead wrong for 21st century America.” In her remarks, she did not mention any specific terrorist or militant groups, such as the Islamic State, which has held women as sex slaves in Iraq and Syria.

Republicans swiftly accused the Democratic presidential front-runner of directly comparing the Republican presidential field to terrorists. “For Hillary Clinton to equate her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her flailing campaign,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Allison Moore. “She should apologize immediately for her inflammatory rhetoric.” CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Thirty-year veteran teacher Twila Smith had scarcely started a new school year when a 14-year-old freshman entered her world studies class and drew a gun Tuesday. “I knew if I lost my composure, this is going to end badly,” Smith told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “He told me I was going to die today and I believed that.” That the hostage crisis ended with no one killed or even hurt at Philip Barbour High School is largely due to Smith, whose superintendent called her actions “miraculous.” The hostage-taking drama rocked the school on the ninth day of the school year in the small Appalachian town of Philippi, home to about 3,000 people some 115 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Storm surge and winds ripped the top off a church steeple in Mississippi, left a tangle of fishing boats sitting in the middle of a Louisiana highway, and ripped holes into the New Orleans Superdome’s roof. Flooding caused by breached levees in New Orleans stranded tens of thousands of people in horrific conditions at the football stadium and convention center, flooded houses in Lakeview to the eaves and left a parking lot full of waterlogged school buses. This is a collection of photos by Associated Press photographers of many of those locations showing how they looked in the days after the storm and how they look now.

Zuber said. “They cry, they hug, and then they get the job done.” Across the state and beyond, the shootings prompted a renewed debate on gun control. They said a background check was conducted, and there was nothing in Flanagan’s criminal or mental health history that should have prohibited the sale. McAuliffe also took to the media to call upon lawmakers to tighten gun laws, prompting ire from some Republicans who noted that one measure the governor has pushed for would not have prohibited Flanagan’s purchase. Zuber, WDBJ’s news director, said her reporters would continue to confront the task of covering a story that they have an all-too-personal stake in.

The gun-control debate, she said, would be a part of that. “I think our journalists are up for the challenge, and they realize that there will be a political side to this, as gun control is discussed,” she said. “We have people in the newsroom that I’m sure that, if you polled them, would come down on one side or the other of that issue.

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