Democracy Dies in Darkness


Recalling the 2015 fatal shooting of two Virginia journalists

August 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Aug. 26, 2015 On this day, a live early-morning television news segment about the 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Va., was violently disrupted by a man firing a semiautomatic pistol. WDBJ (Channel 7) reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, both died, and the person Parker had been interviewing on-air, 62-year-old Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Vicki Gardner, was seriously injured. Ward caught some of the ambush on tape. The gunman, a disgruntled former co-worker named Vester L. Flanagan II, also posted a recording he made of the shooting on social media. A manhunt ensued. Authorities caught up with Flanagan later that day closer to Northern Virginia, and during a police chase, Flanagan shot himself. He was taken to a Falls Church hospital, where he was pronounced dead. In February 2017, Parker’s fiance, Chris Hurst, announced he was leaving broadcast television to run for office and cited Parker’s death as a reason. In November, he won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Annys Shin is an articles editor at The Washington Post Magazine. She joined The Post as reporter in 2004. She has also been a staff writer at the Washington City Paper and the Center for Public Integrity.

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