Suspect accused of killing Virginia news crew has died at hospital

Posted at 6:45 AM, Aug 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-26 14:50:17-04

MONETA, Va. – The man accused of shooting and killing a Virginia reporter and photographer on live TV shot himself and officials have confirmed he has died at the hospital.

Officials said the man was in critical condition and was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. ET. Wednesday.

Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27,  were interviewing a woman at about 6:45 a.m. when the shots rang out and both women screamed.

As the camera fell to the ground, the audience got the briefest glimpse of a man who appeared to pointing a gun toward the downed cameraman.

The station cut away to a shocked anchor, Kimberly McBroom, back in the studio.

Parker and Ward were killed in the shooting at Bridgewater Plaza near Moneta, the station reported later.

Vicki Gardner, the woman Parker was interviewing, was shot in the back and in stable condition after surgery, according to CNN.

Gardner is the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The gunman is believed to have fired six or seven times, WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said police believe the shooter may be a disgruntled former WDBJ7 employee.

The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office said Vester Flanagan, a previous reporter at WDBJ who went by the name of Brice Williams, has died at the hospital after shooting himself.

"Our hearts are broken," Marks said on air, explaining that Parker's and Ward's colleagues are "holding back tears."

"You know, you send people into war zones, you send people into dangerous situations and into riots, and you worry that they are going to get hurt," Marks told CNN. "You send somebody out to do a story on tourism and -- how can you expect something like this to happen?"

McBroom described Parker as a "rock star" and said, "You throw anything at that girl and she could do it."

Another journalist at the anchor's desk said Ward was engaged to be married to a morning show producer at WDBJ and Ward recently told her, "I'm going to get out of news. I think I'm going to do something else."

Parker is the morning reporter for the Roanoke station and a native of Virginia, having spent most of her life outside Martinsville.

According to tweets, she was in a relationship with an anchor at WDBJ7, Chris Hurst; his tweets are just heartbreaking.

Parker started with WDBJ as an intern, her biography on the station's website says.

She previously worked with another CNN affiliate, WCTI, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

She is a graduate of James Madison University's School of Media Arts and Design in Harrisonburg.