Roanoke community mourns the loss of two journalists

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW)-Many people are still shocked after a 41-year old former television reporter is accused of murdering a reporter and photographer on live television. According to the ATF, the accused killer obtained his gun legally. While investigators work to gather more evidence, the community and nation mourn.

A memorial of flowers and balloons grew overnight, outside the station in Roanoke, Virginia. People who work at the station, still can’t believe two of their very own are gone.

Alison Parker, the reporter conducting the live interview yesterday morning had just turned 24. She was dating Chris Hurst, one of the station’s evening anchors. He posted yesterday on his twitter quote “we didn’t share this publicly but Alison Parker and I were very much in love. We had just moved in together, I am numb.

In an interview last night, Hurst said this is almost too much to handle.

“Today I lost the love of my life and it was not slow but it was incredibly slow and it was immediate.  I told her that losing someone you love as a spouse or as a significant other would be so, so difficult to have to bear, and yet that’s what I have to bear right now.”

Parker’s family issued a statement last night saying, “Today we received news that no family should ever hear. “Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful, and immensely talented Alison was taken from the world. This is senseless and our family is crushed.”

Adam Ward, Alison’s photographer was 27. He was engaged to the morning producer who was in the control room at the station when the shooting happened and witnessed the whole thing on live T.V. They planned to move to Charlotte where his fiancé Melissa Ott had recently accepted a job. The couple was planning their wedding and Ott received her wedding dress yesterday just hours after the attack.

Now that everyone’s plans have changed and newsrooms across America were shaken, the alleged shooter’s family emailed a statement to the newsroom yesterday afternoon.

It reads, “It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we express our deepest condolences to the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. We are also praying for the recovery of Vicki Gardner. Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the victims’ families and the WDBJ7 NEWS family. Words cannot express the hurt that we feel for the victims. Our family is asking that the media respect our privacy. Sincerely,The Family of Vester Flanagan.”

Authorities say Vester Flanagan, who went by Bryce Williams on air was a disgruntled employee. He was fired from his job at WDBJ two years ago. After the attack that he filmed and later posted to his Facebook, he shot himself and died a few hours later.

Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back during the live interview. She is in stable condition.

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