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Harrowing Day for Virginia as WDBJ Journalists Fatally Shot on Live TV

AP Photo/Steve Helber

A harrowing day at Roanoke-based CBS affiliate WDBJ-7, after  two members of the news team were shot and killed during a live remote broadcast at Smith Mountain Lake.
The gunman, a former reporter at the station, is also dead, after shooting himself and crashing the rental car he was driving. 
It started at a liveshot at Bridgewater Plaza at about 6:45 this morning, as Allison Parker was interviewing Vicki Gardner  from the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber. 

Several shots were fired- it happened live on the air. Parker was killed, as was photographer Adam Ward.  Vicki Gardner was shot and is in stable condition following surgery.

The alleged gunman fled the scene-he’s been identified as 41-year-old VesterFlanagan, a former employee at the station who’d been fired. He was known on-air as Bryce Williams.

Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton reported earlier in a press conference, “Shortly before 11, Roanoke City Police Department located Flanagan’s 2009 Ford Mustang at the Roanoke Regional Airport. The mustang has been recovered as evidence. Flanagan then left the airport in a Chevrolet Sonic that he rented earlier in the month.”

With the assistance of an electronic license plate reader, a Virginia State Police trooper Pam Neff located Flanagan’s vehicle, headed east on Interstate 66 in Faquier County.

State Police spokesman Rick Garletts  says, “the driver of the Sonic, Vester Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, refused to stop and sped away from the trooper. It was only a minute or two later when the Sonic ran off the road into the median. When Trooper Neff approached the vehicle, she found Flanagan suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Flanagan was flown from the scene to Invoa-Fairfax hospital, where he died at approximately 1:30 today.”

And earlier today, someone posted a video of the shooting--recorded from the gunman’s perspective-to social media, under Bryce Williams's name.  That video has since been removed.

And Flanagan, allegedly sent a 23-page fax to ABC News about race relations, violence, harassment, and bullying - that’s part of the investigation.

Mike Stevens, former long-time sports director at WDBJ, was one of many expressing shock,

“My feeling right now, like so many people, is one of numbness. I don’t want compare it to anything, but I feel similar to how I did the day of the Virginia Tech shootings. And a lot of this is because we know these people – whether we know them personally or we know them because we see them in our living room, on our TV every night and morning. It’s just a horrific thing, senseless, and I have no words to describe it except to say that I’m just numb right now.”

Allison Parker’s family issued a statement that they too are numb…and devastated for the loss of 24-year-old Parker, who grew up in Martinsville and graduated from James Madison University.

27-year-old Adam Ward, from Salem, graduated from Virginia Tech.  Ward’s fiancé also worked at WDBJ as a producer, she was celebrating her last day at the station, before moving on to a new job.  She was on duty in the control room, when the shooting happened before our eyes.

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