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Gunman Kills Two Journalists During 'Live' Broadcast

Reporter Alison Parker, left, conducting a live interview moments before she was shot dead, Aug. 26, 2015.

Reporter Alison Parker, left, conducting a live interview moments before she was shot dead, Aug. 26, 2015.

UPDATE: The suspected gunman has died of gunshot wounds. He shot himself when confronted by police on a highway, officials said. The suspect, Vester Flanagan, was a former employee of the television station WDBJ.

A gunman opened fire on an American television news crew during a ‘live’ television broadcast Wednesday morning. Two people died in the attack. They were identified as 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman, 27-year-old Adam Ward.

Television station WDBJ says they were attacked in South Mountain Lake, near the city of Roanoke in southwestern Virginia. Ms. Parker was questioning a local business leader when the gunman began shooting. The businesswoman was shot in the back, but survived.

The camera caught images of the suspected gunman. They show a man wearing dark clothing.

Police launched a search for the suspect, who fled the area. He was identified as Vester Flanigan, a former employee of the television station where the two victims had worked.

Officials say the suspect shot himself when police found him on a road outside Washington, D.C. He was at first reported to have died. But it was learned later that he survived his own gunshot and was taken to a hospital in “very critical condition.”

Vester Flanigan also was known as Bryce Williams. Two social media accounts linked to that name were used after the shooting to publicize images from the attack.

The shooting happened early Wednesday as the television station was broadcasting a ‘live’ video feed from the news crew. Another reporter for the station said, “We have no idea what happened, they were out covering a feature story - they were not covering protests or demonstrations.”

The general manager of WDBJ, Jeffrey Marks, appeared during the broadcast after the attack. "We heard screaming,” he said. “We heard nothing. And then the camera fell."

The shooting took place about 190 kilometers from Virginia’s capital, Richmond.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

This report was based on information from VOA’s News Division. Ashley Thompson adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

critical – adj. relating to a medical condition at which doctors are expecting a change in condition

accounts – n. a record or a business plan for services

feature story – n. a report known best for the quality of its writing

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