A memorial in front of the offices of the television station WDBJ in Roanoke, Va., on Wednesday, after two employees were killed.
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and MANNY FERNANDEZ
August 26, 2015
ROANOKE, Va. — The signal from WDBJ-TV carries across hundreds of miles of southwest Virginia, and on Wednesday morning, so did the grief.
In small, rural hamlets, and in the bustling downtown where WDBJ calls itself “Your Hometown Station,” viewers just waking up to another interview by the sunny 24-year-old Alison Parker were horrified to watch as she was gunned down, along with Adam Ward, 27, her cameraman, in a brazen shooting committed live on television.
In the hours after gunshots rang out, killing both journalists and wounding Vicki Gardner, a local chamber of commerce official being interviewed about the 50th anniversary of a popular man-made lake, a heave of sadness, shock and anger could be felt across the region.
“All these different places that reporters go that are somewhat dangerous, and yet here they are standing beside a quiet lake as the sun is rising and all this craziness breaks loose,” said Mike Stevens, 54, who worked for more than two decades as the sports director of WDBJ before leaving in 2008. “To me, it’s still kind of surreal. I can’t begin to explain to you how peaceful Smith Mountain Lake is at that time of morning, and to have those gunshots ring out like that.”
Kara Chandler was watching Channel 7’s morning broadcast when the shooting occurred. An employee of WSLS Channel 10, the competing local television station, Ms. Chandler “started shaking uncontrollably and crying,” she said.
And Pamela Cook saw the morning broadcast, as she often does. She has friends at the station, though she knows Ms. Parker and Mr. Ward only in passing. She stood in front of the station Wednesday afternoon, tears flowing from her eyes, as she explained the sorrow she felt.
“I just kind of walked around in circles,” Ms. Cook said. “I didn’t know what to do. It’s not real. It’s not really happening.”
Justin Ward, a reporter at WDBJ but no relation to his fallen colleague, said he was not watching the news on Wednesday morning, but got a call at 7:11 a.m. from his boss, saying …Read More