"We don't want one more family to have to go through what Alison's family is going through and Adam's family is going through"
The TV anchor boyfriend of the late broadcast journalist Alison Parker, who was slain Aug. 26 on live TV alongside her cameraman, has vowed to honor her memory by covering issues of gun violence and mental illness.
Anything, he says, to spare another family.
“I pledged to her father,” Chris Hurst, the 28-year-old evening anchor at WDBJ, tells PEOPLE. “Her father wants me to help him do whatever it takes to make sure not one more family has to go through this kind of unspeakable violence.”
“If that means talking about gun reform to reduce gun violence, or if that means talking about increasing access to mental health care and trying to figure out [how] those who have an illness get the care they need,” he says, “we will do whatever it takes.”
Hurst offered a poignant look at his relationship with Parker in the hours following her death, revealing that the two planned to be married.
“I have been reporting on mental health issues before this shooting. I have mental health issues in my family and it’s important to me,” Hurst says.
He hopes fellow journalists press politicians running for office by asking tough questions on where they stand on gun control.
“If we get them in an interview situation and they dodge a question, we need to redirect,” he says. “It’s going to happen by changing laws, by changing policies and by slowly changing minds.”
Hurst will next week attend a three-day conference for victims of gun violence in Washington, D.C., with Alison’s parents – to connect with others and learn how to cope with his overwhelming grief.
Alison and Chris used to talk about the word closure. But with Alison, “there will never be an end,” he says. “We are able to turn a page and make her feel she can be proud of us as we move on without her.”
For more details on the lives of the victims and how the tragedy unfolded, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
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