A gunman killed two members of a news crew and injured one more in Moneta, Virginia, in a shooting that was partially captured on video on Wednesday morning.
Police are investigating the shooting at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake that took place at about 6.45am ET. A news crew from WDBJ7 local news was on the scene to film a segment for the morning news when several shots rang out. Screams followed and the camera recording the feature fell, as producers cut to the shocked studio news team.
The station later announced that two of their team, Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, had been shot dead.
Police are searching for a suspect at the scene.
“Today was just like any other day,” anchor Kim McBroom said on the morning broadcast. “They did great work every day and put their all into everything they did.
“They were special people. They would lighten up a room.”
With crying on the set of the studio audible, another anchor, Jean Jadhon, described Parker as “a rock star. She was a professional, so much fun and so kind.”
Jeff Marks, the station’s general manager, recounted what police had told the station. “Someone with a gun, we believe it was a man, barged into where they were and fired several shots, six or seven, it sounded like. We heard screaming, and then we heard nothing, the camera fell.
“The scene was described to us as chaos.”
He expressed disbelief at the shooting: “How can this individual have robbed these families of Adam and Alison of their happiness and their love, for whatever reason.”
Parker originally joined the station as an intern, and had graduated from James Madison University in 2012. According to her profile on the site, she enjoyed kayaking and local theater.
Ward was described as a gregarious, hardworking photojournalist, an avid fan of Virginia Tech and longtime employee of the station. He was engaged to Melissa Ott, a producer on the station who was celebrating her last day on Wednesday before going to a new job in Charlotte. He had planned to join her there and find a new job with her.
Parker had recently celebrated a birthday and was dating WDBJ7 reporter Chris Hurst.
Hurst tweeted on Wednesday morning that although “we didn’t share this publicly” he and Parker “were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb.
“She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother. We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married.”
Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe tweeted that he was “heartbroken” over the two deaths. He wrote that state police would work with the local counties to find the suspect.
Franklin County police did not immediately respond to questions.
The station chief said the news team would hold a memorial on Wednesday afternoon.
Police from Franklin and Bedford counties as well as Virginia state police are searching for a suspect at the scene. They have not described the extent of the third victim’s injuries.
Schools in the area have been locked down until further notice, the Bedford County superintendent announced. The Guardian