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Virginia Television Station Holds Moment Of Silence To Honor Slain Journalists

WDBJ-TV news morning anchor Kimberly McBroom gets a hug from visiting anchor Steve Grant as meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner reflects Thursday after their early morning newscast at the station.
Steve Helber

A Virginia television station that found itself in the news yesterday held a moment of silence during its 6 a.m. newscast to remember reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, who were shot and killed during a live broadcast.

The Associated Press reports:

"During the moment of silence, WDBJ showed photos of the two victims during the live broadcast of its 'Mornin" show.

"Just before the moment of silence, anchor Kim McBroom joined hands with weatherman Leo Hirsbrunner and anchor Steve Grant, who came in from sister station KYTV in Springfield, Missouri, to help the grieving station.

"She said: 'Joining hands here on the desk. It's the only way to do it.' "

Just after that, Hirsbrunner went on to do the weather, but his voice trembled.

"I don't even know how to do weather on a day like this," he said.

McBroom comforted him: "Good job, partner. We're going to get through this together."

As we reported, police said Parker and Ward were gunned down by 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan, who used to be a reporter at WDBJ-TV but was fired a few years back.

Flanagan fled after the shooting, and police caught up with him on Interstate 66. They found him with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and he died at a hospital in Fairfax, Va.

On a Twitter feed that appeared to be under Flanagan's control, a video was posted that showed the shooting from the gunman's perspective. The Twitter feed also included accusations that Flanagan's former employer had discriminated against him.

Jeffrey A. Marks, WDBJ-TV's general manager, told reporters that Flanagan had complained about discrimination in the newsroom to the station's human resources department. Every instance, he said, had been investigated, but was found to have no merit.

Marks said Flanagan filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but it too had dismissed those complaints.

In an interview with Fox News, Parker's father, Andy, said his daughter had just turned 24 years old and was "happy with her place in life." He said he took "some solace" in knowing that she had led a wonderful life.

But, Parker said, he would dedicate the rest of his life to secure gun-control legislation.

"He was a crazy man who got a gun," Parker said. "We've got to do something about crazy people getting guns."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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