Slain TV Reporter’s Father ‘Crying My Eyes Out’ Over Deadly Shooting

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Horrified fiancee of murdered cameraman watched in the control room as her future husband was killedThe news became personal for the CBS affiliate in Virginia when reporter Parker and cameraman Ward were fatally shot during a live broadcast Wednesday, forcing co-workers to balance the stunning tragedy with professionalism. “This is a hard day for all of us here at WDBJ7.The father of a young journalist fatally shot by a gunman during an on-air segment in Virginia Wednesday said in an interview on Fox News that he wants to make it harder for the mentally ill to get guns.

Colleagues had brought in a cake and balloons to mark her last shift at the Virginia station before she was set to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, with her future husband. Flanagan killed himself hours later as police chased him on an interstate. “I’m going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation — to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don’t get guns,” Andy Parker said. It soon developed that the suspected shooter, Vester Flanagan, a former reporter for WDBJ, appeared to have recorded the shooting himself, posted it on Facebook and then tweeted about it using his on-air name, Bryce Williams. What unfolded was familiar to any TV viewer: A recounting of the crime; news conferences with updates from authorities, and reaction from those who knew the victims. It was not clear Wednesday night how Flanagan obtained the weapon he allegedly used to kill Parker and Ward, or if Flanagan had anything in his past that would have prevented him from owning a gun.

He points the gun at Parker and then at Ward, but he waits patiently to shoot until he knows that Parker is on camera, so she will be gunned down on air. The Twitter and Facebook accounts were quickly suspended, and YouTube took down the videos, but the disturbing images continued to circulate, prompting an equally widespread “Don’t Watch” campaign. The station in Virginia’s Roanoke-Lynchburg media market, however, left it other outlets to dwell on the footage from WDBJ’s unwitting broadcast of the shooting and, in a bleakly modern twist, apparent “selfie” video posted online by the alleged gunman.

At best, some said, watching or sharing the footage was an endorsement of a media culture run amok, proof that the medium has indeed become the message — people will now literally do anything to be on television. After Flanagan allegedly opened fire on the two journalists and a woman being interviewed, a man claiming to be Flanagan sent a long fax to ABC News alleging discrimination and referencing other mass shooters. The station received calls for interview requests from media outlets in Russia and Australia, among others. “We are choosing not to run the video of that (the shooting) right now because, frankly, we don’t need to see it again. As if news were suddenly beholden to feelings of gentility and any medium should be blamed for insane people attempting to leverage it for their own dissociated ends.

That man, authorities said, was Flanagan — a former staffer who used the on-air name of Bryce Williams and was fired by WDBJ, a man who always was looking for reasons to take offense, colleagues recalled. Our teams are working on it right now, through the tears.” In sometimes shaky voices, Marks, reporters and anchors shared tender memories of Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, as kind friends and dedicated colleagues. When Flanagan was fired on Feb. 1, 2013, police had to escort him from the building and employees were warned to call 911 if he returned, according to employment records. Then Marks, his hair disheveled but his emotions in check, put a stop to it, at least in those early, freshly painful moments. “We should probably go back to regular programming now, rather than prolonging this.

Wednesday’s on-air murders reverberated far from central Virginia because that’s just what the killer wanted — not just to avenge perceived wrongs, but to gain maximum, viral exposure. He used his insider’s knowledge of TV journalism against his victims — a 24-year-old reporter who was a rising star and a 27-year-old cameraman engaged to a producer who watched the slaughter live from the control room. Because he anchored in the evenings and she working in the mornings, he would make her breakfast and pack her lunch and kiss her goodbye each morning. “She would always text me, we would always be concerned, texting each other when we got to work safely.

In an age when video of crashes, shootings, fires and other tragedies is readily available and endlessly replayed, it was a decision — albeit it one influenced by personal loss — that other outlets often fail to make and for which they are roundly criticized. And she texted me, ‘Good night, sweet boy’ and that was the last that I had ever heard from her,” Hurst said on Fox. “We can only take some solace in the fact that she had a wonderful life, she was extremely happy, and she loved this guy with all her heart,” he said, referring to Hurst. News outlets did not show the space shuttle Challenger explode repeatedly on a minute-by-minute basis, or the Twin Towers fall over and over again, for entertainment’s sake.

He sent ABC’s newsroom a 23-page fax two hours after the 6:45 a.m. shooting that was part-manifesto, part-suicide note — calling himself a gay black man who had been mistreated by people of all races, and saying he bought the gun two days after nine black people were killed in a June 17 shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C. In it, a hand holding a gun is seen behind Ward for several seconds and then squeezes off shots at Parker. “At this point we don’t,” she said Wednesday evening. “We’ll review that as we go. Their live spot Wednesday was nothing out of the ordinary: They were interviewing a local official at an outdoor shopping mall for a tourism story before the shots rang out. McBroom said she ‘wasn’t comfortable’ around him and her co-workers remained vigilante, fearing he could do something threatening. ‘We (were) busy trying to keep her calm and hopeful. Certainly the killing of two journalists on live television will get more coverage than most other workplace murders, but the medium is not the message; the murders are the message.

No.” Lee Wolverton, managing editor of The Roanoke Times, expressed the newspaper’s sympathy for the victims and its intention to provide complete coverage. We are dealing with this together.’ Just before 7am Wednesday morning, Ward was filming Parker as she interviewed Vicki Gardner, with the local chamber of commerce, about an upcoming event to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Smith Lake. Flanagan, 41, who was fired from WDBJ in 2013, was described by the station’s president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, as an “an unhappy man” and “difficult to work with,” always “looking out for people to say things he could take offense to.” “Eventually after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him.

WDBJ’s general manager later came on the air to confirm their deaths: ‘It’s my very very sad duty to report… that Alison and Adam died this morning.’ Meanwhile, Flanagan was already making his way out of Moneta. John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln in a theater before jumping onto the stage yelling “Sic semper tyrannis” (“Thus ever to tyrants”) and, by many accounts, was inconsolable by his portrayal in the press. It’s believed that he first went to a nearby airport where he switched cars with a rental he had waiting and then started driving east towards the Washington, DC area. On Wednesday morning, YouTube and various media outlets, including this one, made decisions on whether to make the videos available (the Los Angeles Times decided to post a clip that stops before the shooting).

However, it wasn’t until five hours later that he was finally brought to a stop in Fauquier County, Virginia, about a three hours drive northeast of Moneta – just before noon. But to suggest that we ought to ignore horrific events out of fear that acknowledgment will fulfill a killer’s wish is not just absurd, it’s agreeing to adopt a murderer’s way of thinking. Marks said Flanagan alleged that other employees made racially tinged comments to him, but that his EEOC claim was dismissed and none of his allegations could be corroborated. 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.” Court records and recollections from former colleagues at a half-dozen other small-market stations where he bounced around indicate that Flanagan was quick to file complaints. The random, senseless horror of their deaths — one minute Parker is doing her job, the next minute running for her life — should remind us that murder, which remains the No. 1 narrative arc in television drama, is not entertainment, that real killers are not fascinating creatures of tortured back story and twisted mythology.

It should stop us in our tracks with the knowledge we are all vulnerable to random gun violence and that threats and signs of stalking should be taken seriously. Just as images of police brutality against black Americans recently reignited protest and investigations, the tragic last minutes of these lives should prompt as many serious conversations as prayers.

Not everything that occurs on television or social media is there for our enjoyment, and when the unacceptable or the outrageous occurs, we should draw as many eyeballs to it as we can. When we’re too afraid to see what violence really looks like, or too worried that our horror will encourage it, that’s when we’ll know the barbarians have won.

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