How WDBJ Was Able to Get Through This Morning’s Newscast After On-Air Slayings

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Inside Vester Lee Flanagan’s life.

Vester Lee Flanagan, the crazed gunman who executed on live morning TV two local journalists who worked at his former station, was told before being fired by the station to seek help for possible mental health issues — then lingered in Roanoke, Va., for more than two years, living in a squalor amid publicity photos of himself, porn and sex toys.Stephanie Gray attends a vigil for journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward who were killed during a shooting at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — A day after two journalists were slain on live television, their colleagues at a Virginia morning newscast returned to the air with memories, tears and a determination to carry on the victims’ dedication to the news. The emotional crescendo of WDBJ-TV’s “Mornin'” show on Thursday came when two anchors and a weatherman joined hands to mark a moment of silence at 6:45 a.m., 24 hours after the shooting. “We are approaching a moment that none of us will ever forget,” said anchor Kim McBroom, her voice faltering. The news became personal for the CBS affiliate in Virginia when the two were fatally shot during a live broadcast Wednesday morning by a disgruntled former colleague.

Failure to comply will result in termination of employment.” It’s unclear if Williams did indeed follow up with Health Advocate, but he wasn’t terminated from WDBJ until February 2013. WDBJ-TV7 news morning anchor Kimberly McBroom, second from right, and meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, are joined by visiting anchor Steve Grant, second from left, and Dr. Parker’s boyfriend appeared at the station where they both worked, telling his co-workers and viewers that he wants to tell his girlfriend’s story even as he grieves. Station anchor Chris Hurst, Parker’s boyfriend, recalled on air how Parker’s voice could light up a room with its kindness and joy, and how excited she was about her work, including an upcoming piece on hospice care. “Alison, what great things she could have done,” Hurst said, adding that he will take a brief break from his anchor role.

Cops who searched Flanagan’s car found a Glock pistol with multiple magazines and ammunition, a white iPhone, letters, notes, a to-do list and a briefcase that contained three license plates, a wig, shawl, umbrella, sunglasses and black hat, according to the Associated Press. His family released a statement through a representative, expressing condolences for the victims’ families and asking for privacy: “Words cannot express the hurt that we feel,” it read in part. Hirsbrunner told anecdotes about Ward’s practical jokes around the office, including covertly placing candy wrappers on the weather desk that Hirsbrunner would see while delivering his segments.

Someone who lived in Flanigan’s apartment complex told the Mirror that Flanagan was “rude and arrogant to everyone and anyone” and would sometimes throw cat feces at the dwellings of neighbors he was in disputes with. He said WDBJ staffers handled the day well, showing that it’s OK to be overcome with grief in times of tragedy. “This is a family here,” Milam said. “And it’s not something that’s easily created. They didn’t eat though because they were so nervous. “I’d never done that before for any woman, for anyone, but I wanted to do it for Alison because I loved her so much and I just took so much joy in something so minor as cutting strawberries for her and packed for her lunch.” “It’s the last that I ever heard from her,” Hurst said. “I saw it before I went to sleep.

And then a few hours later I woke up to some calls telling me to come to the station.” Parker and Ward worked as a team for the station’s “Mornin'” show, a time-slot where many broadcast journalists get their start. A native of Martinsville, about 45 minutes from Roanoke, Parker said in a promotional video for the station that the “most thrilling” thing she ever did was take a trip to the Grand Canyon with her family and ride horseback down the canyon. A short video posted to YouTube shows what has been described as a “road rage” encounter with a man who appears to be Flanagan, dressed in a football jersey, camouflage pants and boots. You don’t find that every day,” said Ashley Talley, who was assistant news director at WCTI-TV in New Bern, North Carolina, when she hired Parker right out of college. Petersburg, Florida, Skip Foreman in Charlotte, North Carolina; Larry O’Dell in Richmond, Virginia; David Dishneau in Harrisonburg, Virginia; and Brock Vergakis in Hardy, Virginia, contributed to this report.

On Flanagan’s video, announced on Twitter and posted to Facebook, Parker, Ward and their interview subject, local economic development official Vicki Gardner, don’t appear to notice Flanagan. They react as he opens fire, and Flanagan’s video goes to black after eight shots are fired; seven more are heard before it ends, more methodical than the initial burst. Dan Dennison, now a state government spokesman in Hawaii, was the WDBJ news director who hired Flanagan in 2012 and fired him in 2013, largely for performance issues, he said. “We did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man,” Dennison said. “You just never know when you’re going to work how a potentially unhinged or unsettled person might impact your life in such a tragic way.” In the fax to ABC, Flanagan called himself a gay black man who had been mistreated by people of all races. He said he bought the gun two days after nine black people were killed in a June 17 shooting at a Charleston church and wanted to use it to retaliate for what authorities called a racially motivated shooting.

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