World

Alison Parker and Adam Ward remembered on WDBJ-TV morning show

Just one day after two of its own were killed, the news team at Roanoke, Va., station WDBJ-TV regroups, gathers together and leans on one another for the live broadcast of its Mornin' show.

Reporter and cameraman were shot and killed on-air 24 hours earlier

WDBJ remembers its colleagues

6 years ago
Duration 2:00
WDBJ opens the morning show with a memorial and then a moment of silence the day after two employees were killed 2:00

Just one day after two of its own were killed, the news team at Roanoke, Va., station WDBJ-TV regrouped, gathered together and leaned on one another for the live broadcast of its Mornin' show.

The show began with an image of the two victims — reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward — and the words "In Memory."

Morning anchor Kim McBroom, who was on the air Wednesday morning when the shooting happened, briefly fought through tears as she prepared for the newscast Thursday. On the air, McBroom said, "We come to you with heavy hearts. Two of our own were shot during a live shot yesterday morning." She noted the outpouring of support that followed the deaths.

"We've had a lot of help," she added, before introducing Steve Grant, an anchor from a sister station in Missouri.

This photo is one of several appearing in a photo gallery on WDBJ's website Thursday under the banner 'Remembering Adam Ward and Alison Parker.' (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV/Associated Press)

The station then went into a series of news pieces on the shooting, including ones about the criminal investigation.

At 6:45 a.m. ET, WDBJ observed a moment of silence. It marked the exact same time Parker and Ward were killed Wednesday by a former station employee during a live interview.

During a weather report, Leo Hirsbrunner became emotional while recalling how Ward would come over to the weather desk every morning, grab a piece of candy and hide the wrapper somewhere on the desk. Hirsbrunner said he found one of those wrappers Thursday morning. "I still have one over there this morning, so that kind of touches me here," he said.

Throughout the show, during Hirsbrunner's periodic updates, his voice faltered. "I don't even know how to do weather on a day like this," he said.

A makeshift memorial is growing in front of WDBJ television station in Roanoke, Va., to honour murdered journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

Parker's boyfriend, station anchor Chris Hurst, appeared at the station where they both worked, telling his co-workers and viewers he wants to tell his girlfriend's story even as he grieves.

Hurst recalled how Parker's voice could light up a room with its kindness and joy, and how excited she was about her work, including an upcoming piece on hospice care.

"Alison, what great things she could have done," Hurst said.

Hurst said he will take a brief break from his anchor role. "You won't be seeing me in my normal position for, who really knows how long. But hopefully not too long because Alison would want me back," he said.

'A lot of people are grieving'

For a brief segment, a grief counselor joined the newscasters.

"As a community, how do we take steps to move forward after something like this?" McBroom asked him.

The grief counsellor, Thomas Milam, a psychiatrist at the Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, said it's important to respect that people grieve in different ways and give them space to do so. He also said it's important to comfort children who may have seen coverage or had their schools on lock down.

"A lot of people are grieving this morning," he said.

Several television stations also read a statement from the family of the gunman offering condolences to the victims' loved ones.

The statement from the family of Vester Lee Flanagan II, who went by Bryce Williams as an on-air reporter, said: "It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we express our deepest condolences to the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward."

The family of shooter Vester Lee Flanagan, a former WDBJ journalist who reported under the name Bryce Williams, has issued a statement of condolences to the victims. (CBS News/Twitter)

"We are also praying for the recovery of Vicki Gardner. Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the victims' families and the WBDJ7 NEWS family. Words cannot express the hurt that we feel for the victims. Our family is asking that the media respect our privacy."

Gardner, the executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce, was wounded in the shooting while being interviewed live by Parker.

Her husband, Tim Gardner, appeared on WDBJ-TV's morning show Thursday.  He said his wife is doing better and is in fair condition in hospital.

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