MONETA (WSLS 10) – Police were searching for a man who they say shot at multiple people Wednesday morning, killing WDBJ7’s reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake.
Franklin County sheriff’s officials confirmed the shooting occurred around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, August 26 at the Bedford County-Franklin County line in Moneta.
WDBJ7 says the shooting occurred during their live shot and are asking for prayers during this difficult time.
Alison Parker was interviewing Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Vicki Gardner during their morning newscast when the attack happened. According to Special Projects Manager, Barb Nocera, Vicki Gardner was being interviewed regarding SML’s 50th Anniversary by WDBJ when Vicki was shot. She was in surgery at Roanoke Memorial Hospital and was listed in stable condition.
The 50th Anniversary Steering Committee and Business Meetings that were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon have been cancelled.
Police say the suspect has been listed in critical condition after shooting himself along Interstate-66 Wednesday in Fauquier County after running off the interstate while being pursued by police.
Virginia State Police said shortly before 11:30 a.m they spotted the suspect vehicle headed eastbound on Interstate-66. With emergency lights activated, troopers said they initiated a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle refused to stop and sped away from the trooper. Minutes later, the suspect vehicle ran off the road and crashed.
The troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound. They said he was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.
The male driver is believed to be the same male subject, identified as Vester Lee Flanagan, who killed WDBJ7’s Alison Parker and Adam Ward.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said they will be holding a news conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Willard Office Plaza at 13245 Booker T. Washington Highway in Hardy.
Flanagan is a former employee of WDBJ7 who had been fired. He went by the name Bryce Williams on air.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on the horrific attack in Moneta, Virginia today:
“There are no words to express how heartbroken I am by the senseless tragedy in Moneta this morning. My deepest sympathies go out to the loved ones of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as well as the entire WDBJ family. I ask everyone to join me in praying for Vicki Gardner who was seriously injured in this attack and all of the local authorities and first responders who are working to find the perpetrator of this horrific crime.”
RTDNA sent out a statement Wednesday following the tragic shootings:
“RTDNA is horrified and saddened by the senseless deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the two WDBJ employees,” said Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director. “While the shootings are under investigation, our most sincere sympathies go out to their families and friends and all who worked with them at WDBJ.”
“Tragically, these shootings are the worst example in a continuing series of attacks on live television crews,” he added, “Safety and security of our people is always of paramount concern, but as these attacks show, such violence can occur even in the most unexpected of situations.”
Stay with WSLS 10 on this developing situation.