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Virginia journalists killed on-air 'much more than what you saw on TV'

Reuters Reuters 26/08/2015 Laila Kearney

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were an ambitious reporter and cameraman team at a Virginia television station who often filmed light and breezy feature stories for the morning news show.

On Wednesday at about 6:45 a.m. ET (1045 GMT), it was business as usual for the two journalists with Roanoke, Virginia-based CBS affiliate WDBJ7, who were conducting a live interview about a local lake until gunfire rang out.

WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker & cameraman Adam Ward in an undate photo © WDBJ7, via Facebook WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker & cameraman Adam Ward in an undate photo

Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were shot and killed on-air, their final screams broadcast live from Bridgewater Plaza, a recreation site with restaurants and shopping. The shooting suspect was a former or current employee of the station, authorities said.

"I cannot tell you how much they were loved," WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said about Parker and Ward during a somber broadcast. Station employees could be heard crying in the background.

"These two were more than what you saw here on TV, they were much, much more," anchor woman Kimberly McBroom said.


Parker and Ward were Virginia natives. Parker graduated from Martinsville High School and attended James Madison University, where she excelled academically. She started at WDBJ as an intern about four years ago, left for a spell, then returned.

She was known by coworkers as bubbly, smart and excelling quickly at her job, working her way up to full-time reporter and substitute anchor by her early 20s. When fellow employees suffered personal hardships, she would console them, bring food or flowers to their door, they said.

Ward went to Salem High School and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was a devoted fan of Virginia Tech sports teams and always had a smile on his face, coworkers said.

Both were engaged to be married to people who worked at the news station

. This screenshot from WDBJ-TV7, in Roanoke, Va., shows reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward. Parker and Ward were killed, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, when a gunman opened fire during a live on-air interview in Moneta, Va. (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV7 via AP) US journalists shot dead on live television in Virginia, suspect shoots himself


Parker was engaged to WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.

"She was the most radiant woman I ever met," Hurst wrote on Twitter after the death of his fiance, whom he had dated for nine months and was living with. "I am numb."

Hurst said Parker and Ward worked together ever day and "were a team."

Ward was engaged to morning WDBJ producer, Melissa Ott, who was leaving the station for a job in Charlotte, North Carolina, Marks said. Ward was moving with her.

There was cake and balloons in the newsroom on Wednesday morning celebrating the move and the couple's engagement, said anchor Kimberly McBroom.

Ward recently told coworkers he intended to leave the news business when he left for Charlotte.

Ward's personal Facebook page is decorated with images of him and Ott, including his marriage proposal to her.

Parker's page is filled with images of pets, outdoor activities and other outings where she poses with her new fiance.

"There were a lot of good things happening for Adam," McBroom said, choking back tears. "And Alison, wow, she was just a rock star."

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