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Virginia TV station vows to move forward from journalists' shooting

 JournalismPakistan.com |  Published August 28, 2015

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Virginia TV station vows to move forward from journalists' shooting

ROANOKE, Va.: The Virginia television station that was home to two journalists shot dead during a live broadcast is trying to move forward while still mourning their deaths, executives said on Thursday.

Kelly Zuber, news director at Roanoke's WDBJ7, said she had come across news anchors weeping over the Wednesday slayings of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by a disgruntled former station employee. Thirty minutes later the anchors were delivering the news without a hitch, she said.

"The performance of this staff has been incredible. They cry, they hug, and then they get the job done, and it's all I can ask of them right now," she said at a news conference outside the station.

Zuber said another staff member had been overcome when he passed Ward's car and saw his clothing inside it.

"It's kind of the little things that are getting to us now," she said.

The killings in Roanoke, a city of 100,000 people about 200 miles (320 km) southwest of Washington, have generated an outpouring of support from journalists around the world and the local community, including donations of food and flowers, said General Manager Jeffrey Marks.

Many in the United States often identify strongly with on-air personalities at local stations such as the Roanoke CBS affiliate.

Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were shot during a live early-morning interview by Vester Flanagan, 41, of Roanoke. Flanagan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being chased by police.

Jeffrey Marks, the station's president and general manager, said Flanagan had worked for WDBJ7 from March 2012 to February 2013 as a reporter. He had been fired because of his performance and newsroom behavior.

When he was let go, the station had to call police to escort him from the building. On the way out, Flanagan handed a wooden cross to the news director and said, "You'll need this," Marks said.

He also made a derogatory comment to Ward as he left, he said.

Flanagan, an African-American, filed a complaint against the station with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that was later denied. He also brought a civil lawsuit against the station, but that was dismissed, Marks said.

In a 23-page fax to ABC News after the shooting, Flanagan called himself a "powder keg" of anger over what he saw as racial discrimination at work and elsewhere in the United States. - Reuters

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