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Suspect in on-air killing of Virginia journalists hospitalized

WDBJ-7 journalists Adam Ward and Alison Parker were fatally shot while producing a live broadcast Wednesday morning in Moneta, Va.

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This screenshot from WDBJ-TV7, in Roanoke, Va., shows reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward. Mr. Parker and Ms. Ward were killed, Wednesday, when a gunman opened fire during a live on-air interview in Moneta, Va.

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[Updated: This story was updated at 1:30 p.m.]

A  suspect believed to have fatally shot two local news reporters during a live broadcast Wednesday morning at a shopping plaza in Virginia is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police found the gunman in a crashed vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds. The suspect is said to have previously worked at the station WDBJ-TV7 under then name Bryce Williams.

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Original story continues below.

Police are in pursuit of a suspect believed to have fatally shot two local news reporters during a live broadcast Wednesday morning at a shopping plaza in Virginia.

In his final moments, WDBJ-TV7 cameraman Adam Ward managed to record a glimpse of the fleeing suspect, who has been identified as Vester Lee Flanagan II of Roanoke, Va. Law enforcement have engaged the suspect in a vehicle pursuit. 

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said his arrest should be "imminent."

"They're right behind him," he said during an appearance on WTOP-FM's "Ask the Governor" Wednesday morning.

The attack occurred around 6:45 a.m. Police looking for a suspect at this time who opened fire during a live broadcast, killing WDBJ-TV7 cameraman Adam Ward and WDBJ-TV7 reporter Alison Parker, and leaving others injured.

Law enforcement is on the scene at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Va., where the incident occurred.

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The news team was covering a story on tourism in the area, with Ms. Parker interviewing a representative from the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, when shots rang out and Parker fell to the ground on camera.

“We do not know the motive, we do not know who the suspect or who the killer is,” Jeff Marks, general manager of WDBJ-TV7, said. “I just got off the phone with the Franklin County State Police, who are working very diligently to track down both the motive and the person responsible for this terrible crime against two fine journalists.”

Mr. Ward was 27 years old. Parker just turned 24.

Both victims were from Virginia, and had been educated at Virginia schools, according to WDBJ-TV7. Ward graduated from Salem High School and Virginia Tech. Parker grew up in Martinsville, Va. and attended Patrick Henry Community College and James Madison University. Ward was engaged to a morning producer at the same network, and had recently told a colleague “I’m going to get out of news,” colleague Jean Jadhon told The Roanoke Times. Ms. Jadhon said it was Ward’s fiancee’s last day at the station, and Ward planned to follow her to Charlotte, N.C.

He was described as a “fine photojournalist” who would turn his car around at the end of a workday to cover breaking news.  

Parker was also reportedly dating a coworker, and they had just moved in together. In an interview with The Roanoke Times, colleague Kimberly McBroom described the on-air reporter as a “rock star...you throw anything at that girl and she could do it,” including stepping in as anchor when needed and covering tough stories.

You can view their colleagues’ remarks here.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

[Editor's note: This original version of this article misstated Adam Ward's last name in one instance.]


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