‘Our WDBJ crew was literally ambushed…please don’t post the video’
ROANOKE, Va. — Grieving employees at a Virginia new station asked the public not to spread the voyeuristic video which shows the murder of their two co-workers, filmed and posted on social media by the suspect.
A Twitter account believed to be that of suspect Vester Flanagan, identified by police as a former WDBJ employee whose on-air name was Bryce Williams, posted several tweets directing people to Facebook to watch the filmed murder.
One video shows the gunman approaching WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward as Parker conducted an interview about tourism story, with Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Several tweets also made allegations against the deceased journalists. And ABC News reported that it has received a fax containing a 23-page manifesto from someone named Bryce Williams.
Access to both the Twitter and Facebook content was quickly blocked.
But for those quick enough to grab the video, and even post on YouTube, WDBJ journalists beseeched them not to share or post it.
“Our #WDBJ crew was literally ambushed this morning,” wrote Chief Meteorologist Brent Watts. “Please DO NOT share, or post the video.”
“Exactly, have some respect and decency,” Watts wrote. “These are our friends and family.”
The newsroom continued to report as the shocking murder turned into a manhunt. After Flanagan was caught five hours later by Virginia State Police, WDBJ employees took to Twitter and Facebook to share memories of their beloved co-workers.
Below are images and tweets that they have shared. Our CBS 6 newsroom extends prayers and supportive thoughts to all friends, family and co-workers of Alison and Adam.
Parker was a native of the southwest Virginia area, having grown up in Martinsville, about 50 miles south of Roanoke.
“She was always so eager to learn,” said Deon Guillory, a reporter in Augusta, Georgia. She had Parker as an intern when she was a college student at James Madison University.
“She was so enthusiastic and she was doing what she loved,” he told CNN. “She was living her dream.”
Chris Hurst, an anchor at the station, said on social media that he and Parker were “very much in love.” They had just gotten a place together.
“I am numb,” he wrote. “She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother.”
“Your thoughts and prayers mean the world to me,” he said.
Anchor Kimberly McBroom called Parker a “rock star.”
“You throw anything at that girl and she could do it,” McBroom said.
In her station biography, Parker said she liked to “whitewater kayak, play with her parents’ dog Jack, and attend community theater events.”
Parker did some reporting for CNN last year, reporting on a snowstorm in the Roanoke area. Guillory, her former colleague, said you could see her effervescent personality in that clip.
“You can even seen her smiling in the snow. That was the kind of person Alison was,” he said.
Photographer Adam Ward had been with WDBJ since July 2011, according to a LinkedIn page believed to belong to him. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in communication.
“Adam was a delightful person. He worked hard — you could tell he loved what he was doing,” said Virginia Tech professor Robert Denton, who taught Ward in classes and worked with him as a guest broadcaster at WDBJ.
“He wasn’t afraid to pitch in and do whatever was necessary for the broadcast. He did whatever was needed with a smile and with grace. He was simply a very nice young man and very professional.”
Ward was recently engaged, according to Solina Lewis, a journalist who said she was a friend of his fiancee, Melissa Ott.
“He was an incredible person, a great journalist and would have been a great father and husband,” Lewis said in a statement posted on @Breaking911.
“He was sweet, hard working, he came over to my apartment and put furniture together for me without Melissa even there,” she said. “Even though he had to get up for work and do the early morning live shot the next day.”
Another journalist at the anchor desk said Ward was engaged to be married to Ott, a morning show producer at WDBJ. Ward told her, “I’m going to get out of news. I think I’m going to do something else.”
Play this video instead.