Inside Vester Lee Flanagan’s life

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Father of Slain Virginia TV Reporter Vows to Push for Stricter Gun Laws: ‘This Isn’t The Last You’ve Heard From Me’.

ROANOKE, VA. 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.A Virginia TV station observed a moment of silence on air Thursday morning for its two journalists who were killed in a shooting during a live interview the day before.

Just hours after his daughter was killed on live TV, the father of slain WDBJ reporter Alison Parker spoke out about the man who killed the 24-year-old , and the weapon he used to do it. Yesterday morning, Parker received a text from a WDBJ producer, informing him that there had been a shooting at the station and that no one had heard from Alison, he told Kelly. The clips of on-air journalist Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward being gunned down while on their station’s morning show and filmed from two perspectives, including the killer’s, went viral.

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. Cooke’s online piece called it “America’s first social media murder.” Social media were initially used in the sad sequence of events to circulate the breaking news itself. But Parker told Kelly that even when his daughter’s name fades from the headlines, he is going to continue to be vocal on gun control. “Mark my words,” he said. “My mission in life … I’m going to do something, whatever it takes to get gun legislation, to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don’t get guns.” Parker also appeared on Good Morning America, remembering his daughter. 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. While they were useful for spreading news and providing an outlet for people to share their shock and condolences, they were also used to show the shooting deaths of two innocent people. “The tools of the digital age, like all technologies, are morally neutral.

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.

And we learn again today that they can be used with murderous rage to blot out everything that is human and decent,” Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter journalism institute wrote online. 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 were interviewing Vicki Gardner at a shopping and entertainment complex when they were approached by a gunman later identified as Vester Lee Flanagan. Our family is asking that the media respect our privacy.” Parker and Ward worked as a team for the station’s Mornin’ show, a timeslot where many broadcast journalists get their start. Within hours, the carefully scripted carnage carried out by a disgruntled former colleague spread to millions of viewers gripped by what had transformed into a social media storm.

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. It appears as though the social media messages were posted in the time between the shooting and when Flanagan was found in his car a few hours later with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He died in hospital shortly afterward. “We watched a murder on Twitter today,” CNN’s Brian Stelter, host of Reliable Sources, a show about the media, said on air. Journalists use live television and social media for their jobs, he said, and the gunman “used those tools against us.” Twitter and Facebook shut down the accounts linked to Bryce Williams, but that didn’t put an end to duplicates of the video circulating on social media, including on YouTube. 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.

Some users, not all, are eager to share breaking news in an effort to increase their popularity or credibility and will do so regardless of the content, he said. 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.

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