The station held a moment of silence at 6:45 a.m. in memory of their slain colleagues

By Tara Fowler
Updated August 27, 2015 07:00 AM
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Credit: Steve Helber/AP

At 6:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, tearful broadcasters at WDBJ-TV paused for an on-air moment of silence in honor of slain reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, who were brutally murdered on live TV at that time yesterday.

Anchor Kim McBroom took the hands of weatherman Leo Hirsbrunner and anchor Steve Gran, saying: “Joining hands here on the desk. It’s the only way to do it,” according to the Associated Press

Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were shot to death as the pair filmed a live interview about local tourism. A third victim, Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back as she tried to flee. She is in stable condition following surgery at a local hospital.

In an interview with the Today show Thursday, Parker’s boyfriend, Chris Hurst, also a reporter at the TV station, revealed that he’d been planning to propose to his girlfriend of nine months before her life was cut short.

“[We’d] just moved in [together at the] beginning of August,” Hurst said, clutching a black binder full of photographs of Parker. “We wanted to save up money to get a house and get a ring.”

To Good Morning America, he added: “I want everyone to know that she was not only a fantastic journalist but she was good at everything she attempted.”

Hurst went on to say that he supports Parker’s father, Andy Parker, in his crusade for increased gun control following his daughter’s death.

“I support him and I support her family immensely,” Hurst said. “I told them yesterday that I loved them and they told me that they loved me back.”

In another interview with Today, the third victim’s husband, Tim Gardner, revealed that his wife Vicki called him from the ambulance as she went to the hospital for surgery. He had been watching live when he saw his wife shot.

“She explained what happened and that she didn’t know how she survived but she did and that she loved me,” Tim said, choking up on the word “loved.”

He added: “She remembers everything that happened.”

Police identified Bryce Williams, a.k.a. Vester L. Flanagan, a former employee of the news station, as the suspect in the brutal shootings. Flanagan died after shooting himself later on Wednesday morning.

But before Flanagan turned the gun on himself, two videos depicting the graphic killings were uploaded to a Twitter account in Bryce Williams’ name. That account was quickly suspended and the videos were taken down.

One video shows a person filming himself approaching Parker as she interviews a Gardner on-air. The person points his gun and Parker screams.

In the second video, the individual can be seen firing at Parker, and Parker begins to run away. Six shots are fired before the video fades to black.

The user also claimed on Twitter that Parker “made racist comments” and wrote that “Adam went to hr on me after working with me one time!!!”

Station general manager Jeff Marks vehemently disputed these claims on Wednesday, describing Flanagan as “an unhappy man” who “quickly gathered a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with,” and was dismissed. He said Williams filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging racism at the station, but that the EEOC had “dismissed the claim out of hand, and that was that.”

On Thursday, in an interview with Good Morning America, Marks expanded on his comments, insisting Parker would never have made such remarks.

“There was not a hateful bone in Alison’s body,” he said. “She would never have made a racially insensitive remark.”

He added on WDBJ-TV as a whole: “It’s a diverse workplace full of respect. It couldn’t have happened.”

Of Parker and Ward, he said they were the station’s A-team: “Nobody could beat them.”

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