US & Canada

Virginia shooting: What we know

Alison Parker and Adam Ward are pictured in this handout photo from TV station WDBJ7 obtained by Reuters on 26 August 2015 Image copyright REUTERS/WDBJ7

Police in the US state of Virginia say a man who shot dead two journalists who were broadcasting live on air at the time of the attack has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Here's what we know so far about the shooting.

How the attack unfolded

The attack unfolded live before viewers' eyes at about 06:45 local time (10:45 GMT) on Wednesday, as a local news crew filmed from a large shopping centre, Bridgewater Plaza, in the town of Moneta.

WDBJ reporter Alison Parker was just beginning an interview with local businesswoman Vicki Gardner about the 50th anniversary of a nearby tourism project - the Smith Mountain Lake - when gunfire suddenly erupted.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The WDBJ7 news crew was attacked as they filmed a segment for a morning news show in Moneta, Virginia

The sounds of eight gunshots could be heard, as the camera spun and dropped to the ground, and the two women ran for cover screaming.

A fleeting image of the gunman, who was wearing black trousers and a blue top and holding a handgun, was captured in the footage.

Ms Parker, 24, and WDBJ7 TV cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, were both shot and died at the scene.

Ms Gardner was injured in the shooting, but police said she was in stable condition in hospital following surgery.

What happened next?

It didn't take long for Virginia state police to identify the suspect gunman as 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of the station.

They said Flanagan fled the scene of the fatal shooting, dumping his own car at a local airport and exchanging it for a vehicle he had rented a month ago.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Flanagan's hire car was spotted by police on the I-66 highway several hours after the shooting

Some five hours later, he was spotted by Virginia state police on the Interstate 66 highway but refused to stop and drove away from an approaching police car.

Minutes later, he ran the vehicle off the road and crashed. When police approached, they found the suspect suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was taken to hospital, where police said he died at around 13:30.

Who is the gunman?

Several hours after the shooting came to light, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe told Washington radio station WTOP the suspected gunman had been identified as a disgruntled current or former station employee.

Flanagan, who was known professionally as Bryce Williams, worked with the local WDBJ news station for a year until 2013.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption A man claiming to be Bryce Williams (pictured) posted messages on Twitter after the murders

He had a background working with local TV stations in North Carolina, Florida and Georgia and studied broadcast media at San Francisco State University.

Posts on a Twitter account under the name of Bryce Williams seemed to back up reports the suspect had held a grudge against Mr Ward and Ms Parker.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Twitter and Facebook accounts of "Bryce Williams" have been suspended

In a number of tweets, he accused his victims of making racist comments and said one of them had complained to human resources about him.

Bryce Williams's Twitter and Facebook feeds, which have since been suspended, also showed graphic video shot by the gunman of the Bridgewater attack.

It showed him raising a handgun, training it on the trio, and opening fire 14 times. The TV station's own footage of the attack recorded only eight of the shots.

ABC News meanwhile revealed they had received a "lengthy" fax from someone purporting to be Bryce Williams between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and had turned it over to the authorities.

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Media captionWDBJTV7 general manager Jeffrey Marks called the shooting "a terrible crime against two fine journalists"

In the 23-page document, the writer described being motivated by previous gunmen in US mass shootings - including those in Columbine and Virginia Tech - but said the "tipping point" was the murder of nine African-Americans church-goers in Charleston early this summer.

Local media reports said he had filed a legal case for alleged discrimination by the WDBJ station, which was later dismissed in court.

The station's president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, described the suspected killer as "an unhappy man" who was "difficult to work with" and had to be escorted from the TV station by police officers when he was finally dismissed.

Read more in our profile of Vester Lee Flanagan.

Who were the journalists killed?

TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward had been working together as a team for WDBJ7 TV for almost a year. A tribute on the station's website described the pair as journalists with "big plans and bright futures" who both started out as interns at WDBJ before signing up as full-time members of staff.

"Alison was smart and ambitious. Adam was a capable photographer who would go the extra mile to get the job done," their colleague, Joe Dashiell, writes.

Ms Parker, a graduate of James Madison University, covered a broad range of topics, most recently presenting a series of reports on child abuse.

Soon after the attack, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst posted on Twitter that he and Ms Parker had been in a relationship and had planned to marry.

Image copyright Twiiter

WDBJ chief Jeffrey Marks said Adam Ward had "proved himself to be just a fine photojournalist and the kind of guy who [if he] was on his way home from work and heard about something breaking, he would just turn around and go do it."

Mr Ward was also engaged to another station employee, producer Melissa Ott, who was due to finish her last shift at the station on Wednesday. Mr Ward was planning to follow her to a new job in North Carolina.

Read more in our profile of Alison Parker and Adam Ward.

Image copyright facebook
Image caption Adam Ward proposing to Melissa Ott

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