Virginia TV journalists killed by suspect with ‘powder keg’ of anger

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Adam Ward’s Producer Fiancee Had to Watch His Death From Control Room.

Adam Ward, the WDBJ-TV cameraman who was murdered alongside journalist Alison Parker on Wednesday, Aug. 26, was engaged to a producer at the station named Melissa Ott, who had to watch his tragic death from the control room after former employee Vester Flanagan allegedly shot and killed him. They were both early in their careers, in a business that’s really tough to get into, no doubt proud of what they had done so far and full of hope for what lay ahead.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The bizarre on-air murder of a television news reporter and photographer in Roanoke, Virginia has left people around the country in shock. “When those feelings come up, whether it’s a feeling in the gut or the mind or emotions to, instead of fighting those just allow them to happen,” Bemel said. “That’s how we process trauma.” Bemel admits even she got chills when she heard about the killings of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, adding that the gunman’s actions go far beyond being a disgruntled worker. “It certainly speaks to the likelihood of him not having much of a conscience, and that his anger was out of control to the point of the rage that he premeditated this,” she said. “Just the vengeance of it, it’s just kind of haunting,” WCCO-TV reporter Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield said. “A lot of people say, ‘Hey, if there’s somebody in our workplace who’s going to snap, I think I know who it is,’ and it’s almost kind of like a joke — and this really happened.” “They are innocent victims, and of course they didn’t deserve any of this,” Bemel said. “And the best thing that survivors can do to minimize trauma is to honor the lives of those we’ve lost.” ROANOKE, Va. (CBSDC) — He planned it all so carefully — a choreographed execution of two former colleagues, broadcast live to a horrified television audience, and also recorded by him and then shared worldwide across social media.Alison Parker was doing an interview at a shopping mall when she turned to find former workmate Vester Lee Flanagan – known professionally as Bryce Williams – pointing a gun at her. I’ve had people shout abuse during crosses, toot horns, throw things — even swing a punch (stopped by a cameraman with lightening reflexes) And then there are the creatures with room temperature IQ who think it’s amusing to assault reporters -usually female ones — with the words “F*** her in the p…..” For them, there should be a special place in hell. While those infamous incidents of the past were tragic, seemingly desperate, acts of self-loathing, the recent grisly beheading videos distributed by the Islamic State—and presented, creepily enough, with glossy production values and musical accompaniment—are somewhere on a similar continuum with a compelling video press release, perhaps the most extreme yet calculated iteration of cinematic story-telling skills.

Flanagan later posted his own footage online, showing his steps as he approached his victims at 6.45am at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Franklin County, Virginia. The reasons why it happened will be come clearer perhaps, but what’s already blindingly obvious is that is what happens all too often in a place where guns are too readily available. Flanagan’s arrival at WDBJ, a television station in Roanoke, Va., station executives and rank-and-file employees were deeply concerned about his conduct.

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. But in the back of our minds will be a question: while I’m talking to you, thinking of the words I need to say to get this story across to you at this very moment . The social media sites quickly removed Flanagan’s posted “reports,” although not before images from the terrible POV video were widely circulated on various news sites. And then, less than two hours after committing his crimes, which occurred around 6:45 a.m. during WDBJ’s local newscast, Flanagan faxed to ABC News a 23-page document—time-stamped 8:26 a.m.—that offered a deranged explanation for his horrific acts, claiming that they were in response to the racially motivated church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Flanagan called ABC and acknowledged in a brief phone conversation that he’d murdered two people, and that the authorities were “after me” and “all over the place,” according to an account by ABC News reporters Pierre Thomas and Jack Cloherty. That man, authorities said, was Flanagan — a former staffer who used the on-air name of Bryce Williams and was fired by WDBJ last year, a man who always was looking for reasons to take offense, colleagues recalled. While TV outlets exercised restraint in not endlessly showing of video of the on-air shootings, that video—with its soundtrack of screams—was easily available online.

Sesno, however, pointed out that unlike the Islamic State—which has successfully used violent video as a recruiting tool—Flanagan’s video package was the work “of a lone and disgruntled, horribly disturbed human being who did it as a last act of revenge.” Not surprisingly, Flanagan’s crimes struck a raw nerve with people in the news biz; some of the cable anchors during Wednesday’s wall-to-wall coverage looked stricken, visibly struggling not to lose it. Flanagan in a memorandum, “resulted in one or more of your co-workers feeling threatened or uncomfortable,” the documents showed. “We want you to work on the tone of your interpersonal relationships and exercise great care in dealing with stressful situations or disagreements and your response to them,” the executive, Dan Dennison, wrote. “You need to always work as a member of a collaborative team and allow your teammates to do their jobs and not assume that you alone are concerned with high quality standards.” At the time, Mr. And yet, the news team at the grief-stricken home station of the 24-year-old Parker and 27-year-old Ward managed to keep their composure, and admirably displayed their professionalism, as they covered every aspect of the fast-moving story. He added: “He was the kind of guy, if he was on his way home from work and heard about something breaking, he would turn around and go do it.” He said: “He was looking out for people to say something he could take offence to. 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.

Flanagan’s planning may have started weeks ago when, ABC News said, a man claiming to be Bryce Williams called repeatedly, saying he wanted to pitch a story and needed fax information. Flanagan to contact the company’s employee assistance program. “We will continue assisting you with your professional growth and development,” Mr. Parker and Ward were a regular team, providing stories for the station’s “Mornin’” show on everything from breaking news to feature stories on subjects like child abuse. 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. Dennison wrote a memorandum that detailed what he described as “recent examples of lack of thorough reporting, poor on-air performance or time management issues.” As the winter wore on, station officials decided to fire Mr.

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.

She said Wednesday that “he didn’t laugh at our jokes or at himself when he would make a mistake.” Wilmoth describes Flanagan as a loner who didn’t socialize with other reporters. The station generally denied the allegations of discrimination and said it had legitimate reasons for ending Flanagan’s employment, including poor performance, misbehavior with regard to co-workers, refusal to follow directions, use of profanity and budgetary reasons.

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