They are the first journalists believed to be killed since Chauncey Bailey, a newspaper editor in Oakland, was shot and killed in 2007 on his way to work. Bailey, 57, was the editor of the Oakland Post, a black weekly newspaper.
Authorities said that the suspected gunman in Wednesday’s killings, Vester Lee Flanagan, is believed to be a disgruntled employee of the news station where Parker and Ward worked.
At least 39 journalists have been killed around the world this year for reasons related to their work, according to the committee. Eleven other journalists have been killed for reasons that may have been work-related, but that has not been confirmed, the committee noted.
“We do not yet know the motive of the attack that killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward, but we do know that being a journalist is potentially dangerous anywhere in the world,” Carlos Lauría, senior coordinator for the committee’s Americas program, said in a statement Wednesday. “We condemn this fatal shooting and send our condolences to the journalists’ families and colleagues.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists keeps records of journalists killed in work-related situations or journalists who die in circumstances where their work may have been related. So their database does not include the death of Charnice Milton, a reporter for neighborhood publications in Washington, D.C., who was killed in May while heading to a bus after a routine work assignment.
Worldwide, the most dangerous country for journalists so far in 2015 has been France, in large part due to the January shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly newspaper. The other deadliest countries are South Sudan and Syria, according to a database kept by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Since 1992, the year the committee began compiling records on such deaths, more than 1,140 journalists have been killed around the world.
Deaths of journalists in the United States have been rare. In 1992, a former magazine editor named Manuel de Dios Unanue was shot and killed in a New York City restaurant. The following year, Dona St. Plite, a reporter and commentator in Miami, was killed. In 2001, two journalists were killed. William Biggart, a freelance photographer who died after rushing to the World Trade Center to cover the Sept. 11 attacks. Robert Stevens, a photo editor in Boca Raton, Fla., died the following month after inhaling anthrax.
James Edwin Richards, who edited an e-mail newsletter covering crime in Venice, Calif., was shot near his home in 2000, though authorities were not sure about a motive, so the committee said it had not determined if his work was related to his death.
“I am horrified by the fatal shooting of reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward in Moneta, Va., as they went about their jobs serving their community today,” John Hughes, president of the National Press Club, said in a statement Wednesday.
Hughes called the shooting “a sad and tragic reminder that journalists both abroad and closer to home put their safety at risk each day.”
This post has been updated.