Journalists Killed on Live Television Were Shot in Head: Officials - NBC 7 San Diego
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Journalists Killed on Live Television Were Shot in Head: Officials

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    A TV news reporter and cameraman who were killed during a live broadcast both suffered gunshot wounds to the head, Virginia medical officials said. 

    WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker's official cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head and chest, the medical examiner's office in Roanoke office said Friday. Cameraman Adam Ward's cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head and torso. 

    Homicide is listed as the manner of death for both Parker and Ward.

    The medical examiner's office did not specify how many times Parker and Ward were shot during Wednesday's attack.

    Parker and Ward were in the middle of a live interview when Vester Flanagan, a former colleague who used the on-air name Bryce Williams and was fired by WDBJ, opened fire. 

    Parker and Ward died at the scene. Their interview subject, Vicki Gardner, also was shot, but emerged from surgery later Wednesday in stable condition.

    Flanagan fled the scene but then posted his own 56-second video of the murders on Twitter and Facebook. He later ran off a highway while being pursued hundreds of miles away and was captured; he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Flanagan's planning may have started weeks ago when, ABC News said, a man claiming to be Bryce Williams called repeatedly, saying he wanted to pitch a story and needed fax information. He sent ABC's newsroom a 23-page fax two hours after the 6:45 a.m. shooting that was part-manifesto, part-suicide note - calling himself a gay black man who had been mistreated by people of all races, and saying he bought the gun two days after nine black people were killed in a June 17 shooting at a Charleston church. The fax also included admiration for the gunmen in mass killings at places like Virginia Tech and Columbine High School in Colorado.

    He described himself as a "human powder keg,'' that was "just waiting to go BOOM!!!!''

    Flanagan, 41, who was fired from WDBJ in 2013, was described by the station's president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, as an "an unhappy man'' and "difficult to work with,'' always "looking out for people to say things he could take offense to.''

    "Eventually after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. He did not take that well,'' Marks said. He recalled that police had to escort Flanagan out of the building because he refused to leave when he was fired.

    Tweets posted Wednesday on the gunman's Twitter account - since suspended - described workplace conflicts with both victims. He said he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Parker, and that Ward had reported him to human resources.

    Marks said Flanagan alleged that other employees made racially tinged comments to him, but that his EEOC claim was dismissed and none of his allegations could be corroborated.

    "We think they were fabricated,'' the station manager said.

    Dan Dennison, now a state government spokesman in Hawaii, was the WDBJ news director who hired Flanagan in 2012 and fired him in 2013, largely for performance issues, he said.

    "We did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man,'' Dennison said. "You just never know when you're going to work how a potentially unhinged or unsettled person might impact your life in such a tragic way.''

    Court records and recollections from former colleagues at a half-dozen other small-market stations where he bounced around indicate that Flanagan was quick to file complaints. He was fired at least twice after managers said he was causing problems with other employees.

    Both Parker and Ward grew up in the Roanoke area, attended high school there and later interned at the station. After Parker's internship, she moved to a smaller market in Jacksonville, North Carolina, before returning to WDBJ. She was dating Chris Hurst, an anchor at the station and had just moved in with him.

    Ward, who played high school football, was a devoted fan of his alma mater, Virginia Tech. His colleagues said he rarely, if ever, missed a game. They called him a "happy-go-lucky guy'' - even during the early morning hours that are the proving ground for so many beginning journalists.

    Ward's fiancee, station producer Melissa Ott, was in the control room marking her last day on the job when the shots rang out. Ward had planned to follow her to her new job in Charlotte, North Carolina.