Two US journalists killed during live TV broadcast

Agence France-Presse
Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two journalists shot dead live on camera on August 26. 

Two journalists for a local CBS affiliate in Virginia were shot dead Wednesday during a live broadcast, with chilling television footage capturing a fuzzy image of the gunman, who was still at large.

WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were shot at close range while conducting an on-air interview.

The killings sparked a manhunt for the suspect and prompted local school officials to lock down their facilities, once again highlighting fears about gun violence in America.

"We do not know the motive. We do not know who the suspect or the killer is," said WDBJ general manager Jeffrey Marks as he confirmed the deaths to viewers.

WDBJ is located in the Virginia city of Roanoke, about 240 miles (385 kilometers) southwest of the US capital Washington.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said the gunman was believed to be "a disgruntled employee" of the network, and that his arrest was imminent.

Police "know the suspect, they have identified the suspect (and) are in pursuit," he told Washington's WTOP all-news radio.

Marks said Parker and Ward were "both in love with other members of the team" at WDBJ.

The woman who Parker was interviewing on a balcony at the lakeside Bridgewater Resort in the town of Moneta, near Roanoke, was "seriously injured," Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said.

- Shots heard, and screams -




Parker was talking to Vicki Gardner, head of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, about tourism development for WDBJ's early-morning newscast when the gunman seemingly closed in from behind.


Several shots were heard, as well as screams, as Ward's camera fell to the floor, capturing a fuzzy and chilling glimpse of the gunman, dressed in dark clothing.


The station then cut away to a startled anchorwoman back in the studio.


Judging from the video, Marks said it appeared Ward was shot first, with Parker subsequently hit as she tried to run away.


On her Facebook page, Parker -- whose birthday was just a week ago -- described herself as the "mornin' reporter" at WDBJ and a ballroom dancing enthusiast.


Her boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst, said on Twitter that he and Parker were "very much in love," adding: "I am numb."


"We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married," he said.


"She worked with Adam every day," Hurst added. "They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee."


Ward's fiancee, Melissa Ott, a producer at the TV station, was in the control room when the shooting occurred and watched it unfold, Marks told CNN.


"It's hard to believe, isn't it," the grief-stricken station manager said.


Ott was working her last day at WDBJ before moving on to another station in another city, and looking forward to a farewell party with her colleagues.


"This was going to be a day of celebration for her time here and wishing her good luck," Marks said.


McAuliffe said the incident highlighted the need for tighter gun controls.


"There are too many guns in the hands of people who should not have guns," he said. "There is too much gun violence in the United States of America."