Two television journalists from Roanoke, Virginia, CBS affiliate WDBJ were shot and killed during a live broadcast around 6:45 AM on Wednesday morning. A woman being interviewed was also wounded in the shooting, which took place at a shopping mall called Bridgewater Plaza in the community of Moneta.
The journalists were 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old photographer Adam Ward. At least eight shots were fired. Later in the morning, the shooter reportedly committed suicide after a chase with state police.
As a local NBC affiliate reports, the suspect is believed by law enforcement officials to be a disgruntled ex-employee named Vester Lee Flanigan who went by the name Bryce Williams while employed with WDBJ. Flanigan apparently posted graphic videos of the attack and the moments preceding it on his Twitter account, which has since been suspended.
ABC News said in a tweet that they had received a fax from someone purporting to be the shooter.
At the time of the shooting, Parker was interviewing Vicki Gardner, the director of Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. Gardner, who was shot in the back, has reportedly already been through successful surgery.
WDBJ7 General Manager and Vice President Jeff Marks went on air at 8:45 AM, and confirmed Parker and Ward's deaths, saying, "We always say 'senseless' crime. How can this individual have robbed Alison and Adam's families of their lives and loves?"
According to the Guardian, Flanigan was told to seek medical attention by the TV station in 2012 after repeatedly disturbing colleagues with aggressive behavior. In the fax received by ABC, the author—apparently Flanigan—says he was set off by the racism of Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old who shot and killed nine people at an historic African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June.
Sheriff Bill Overton told reporters Flanigan initially took off in a gray 2009 Ford mustang before switching to a rented Chevrolet Sonic at nearby Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. State police attempted to stop him on Route 66, but he accelerated before crashing and was suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound when police reached his car. Flanigan was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Parker and Ward were both in committed relationships with other employees at the network. Parker and another anchor at the station, Chris Hurst, were planning to get married, he tweeted after the attack. Ward was engaged to producer Melissa Ott.
This post has been updated.