Virginia Shooting Supect Has Died, County Sheriff Confirms

Vester L. Flanagan, 41, shot and killed a reporter and cameraman during a live broadcast. He shot himself while being pursued by law enforcement.

AFP

The suspect in a deadly on-air TV shooting in Virginia has succumbed to his wounds after shooting himself.

Vester L. Flanagan, 41, shot and killed two television journalists in Virginia on Wednesday morning while they were conducting a live television interview. He was pursued by police and shot himself.

The on-air shooting occurred at about 6:45 A.M. EDT in Bedford County, in the south-central part of the state and about 120 miles from the capital of Richmond. 

During the broadcast for WDBJ7 shots were heard and the reporter, Alison Parker, 24, and the person she was interviewing screamed and ducked for cover. Parker and cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, died in the incident. 

The suspect was identified by local authorities as Vester L. Flanagan, 41. In an interview on Washington radio station WTOP, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said he was a disgruntled current or former station employee.

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McAuliffe said in a Twitter message that state police had worked with local law enforcement agencies to capture the suspect, adding, "Heartbroken over senseless murders today in Smith Mountain Lake." 

Parker and Ward were filming a feature segment for the morning news program at Bridgewater Plaza, a shopping and recreation plaza. 

Asked on CNN if the station had been targeted or had been threatened, Marks said, "Every now and then you get a crazy email or something and we'll look into it. Nothing of this nature that any of us could recall." 

He said the interview was to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Smith Mountain Lake, a resort area, and the woman being interviewed was from the local chamber of commerce. She had been talking about the anniversary and tourism. 

The woman was wounded and was undergoing surgery, he said. "We don't make a secret of where we report from, we may start now," Marks said. 

The wounded woman was identified as Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

A video of the shooting showed the camera being held by Ward hitting the ground amid screams. 

The station said on its website that both the dead journalists were from the region. Parker grew up in Martinsville and attended Patrick Henry Community College and James Madison University, while Ward graduated from Salem High School and Virginia Tech, the station said. 

They were both engaged to be married to other people.