Friends, colleagues mourn '2 wonderful people' killed in Virginia shooting

This undated composite photograph made available by WDBJ-TV shows reporter Alison Parker, left, and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker and Ward were fatally shot during an on-air interview, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va. Authorities identified the suspect as fellow journalist Vester Lee Flanagan II, who appeared on WDBJ-TV as Bryce Williams. Flanagan was fired from the station earlier this year. (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Friends and co-workers took to social media to mourn the local news reporter and cameraman shot and killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, allegedly by a former employee of their station.

Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, of WDBJ were interviewing chamber of commerce executive Vicki Gardner at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Virginia when a man walked up and shot them. Police identified the gunman as Vester Flanagan, a former WDBJ journalist, who later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Parker and Ward were both in relationships with fellow WDBJ employees, according to station manager Jeff Marks. Parker was dating anchor Chris Hurst and Ward was engaged to morning show producer Melissa Ott, who was in the control room when the shooting occurred.

Marks said on the air that today was supposed to be Ott's last day at the station before starting a new job in North Carolina, and Ward had planned to follow her there.

"Adam just told me, 'I'm going to do something else. I think I'm going to get out of news,'" anchor Jean Jadhon said.

Marks called Ward "just a fine photojournalist."

Ward graduated from Virginia Tech in 2011.

"Adam was a delightful person. He worked hard - you could tell he loved what he was doing. He wasn't afraid to pitch in and do whatever was necessary for the broadcast. He did whatever was needed with a smile and with grace. He was simply a very nice young man and very professional," said Robert Denton, a Virginia Tech professor who also worked as a guest broadcaster at WDBJ, in a university statement.

Others who knew Ward shared their thoughts on social media.

Colleagues were equally devastated by the loss of Parker.

"She's a rock star...You throw anything at that girl and she could do it," anchor Kimberly McBroom said on air after the shooting.

"Her personality lit up the room," Marks told CNN.

"My grief is unbearable...I don't know if there's anybody in this world or another father who could be more proud of their daughter," father Andy Parker told the Washington Post.

Chris Hurst, Parker's boyfriend, expressed his grief on Twitter.

Parker attended James Madison University, interned at WDBJ, and worked at WCTI in North Carolina before returning to WDBJ as a reporter.

"She had a passion for journalism and had a bright future," the university said in a statement.

Those who knew her in college and earlier in her career remembered her as a good friend and a gifted journalist.

The third victim of Wednesday's shooting, Vicki Gardner, who authorities say is in stable condition, has been executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce since 2002.

"Vicki is the face of Smith Mountain Lake," Liz Hock, former editor of the Laker Weekly newspaper told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Friends offered prayers for her quick recovery.

Troy Keaton, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, told the Associated Press that Gardner emailed him around 4:30 a.m. as she prepared for the interview about the lake's 50th anniversary.

"The fact she was there at 4:50 is sort of Vicki. And you know, not a lot of the other staffers would've been up for that. If she was here, she'd be saying 'Man, at least everybody gets to see our beautiful lake,'" he said.

According to WDBJ, a prayer vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Moneta.

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