Roanoke, Virginia TV station WDPJ7's morning team honored fallen colleagues Alison Parker and Adam Ward with an on-air moment of silence on Thursday, a day after a former employee shot the two dead during a live broadcast.
Parker, a 24-year-old reporter, and Ward, a 27-year-old cameraman, were killed while reporting at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta about the 50th anniversary of the man-made Smith Mountain Lake.
"It was this moment around this time that we went live to Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward," co-anchor Kimberly McBroom said during WDBJ7's newscast that morning, holding hands with meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, who was seen wiping away tears, and anchor Steve Grant, who came in from sister station KYTV in Springfield, Missouri to help reinforce the grieving station.
"As we approach that moment, we want to pause and reflect and we want to share with you once again what made these two so special, not just to us, but to all of our hometowns that WBDJ7 serves," McBroom said. "Please join us now in a moment of silence."
Outside the building, members of the community left bouquets, pots and wreaths of flowers and balloons to express their condolences.
Alison and Ward were killed while interviewing Vicki Gardner, the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. The assailant shot her in the chest. She underwent emergency surgery. Early on Thursday, she was reported to be in good condition, WDPJ7 said.
The 41-year-old gunman, Vester Flanagan, turned his gun on himself as police chased him on a highway following the shooting and died at a hospital.
He had gone by the name Bryce Williams when he worked at the station. He was fired two years ago. In a 23-page fax sent to ABC News, he had called himself a "human powder keg" and cited anger over alleged racial and sexual discrimination at work and elsewhere. A person who appeared to be Flanagan had before his death posted messages and videos of the shooting from the gunman's perspective on Twitter and Facebook. The accounts were later suspended.
Both Alison and Ward were in romantic relationships with co-workers at WDPJ7.
Ward's fiancée, producer Melissa Ott, was in the station's control room watching his and Parker's live broadcast when the shooting occurred.
"He was going off to a weekend with Melissa and he said, 'So how's the weather?'" Hirsbrunner recalled during WDBJ7's Thursday's morning show. "And while I was talking, he said, 'I gotta whisper to you' and then goes, 'I'm gonna ask Melissa to marry me. No one knows about this, but I'm gonna ask Melissa to marry me, so just wish me luck.' And I said, 'Good lucky, buddy.'"
"They were so much in love," McBroom said. "It was just heartbreaking on so many levels."
Parker was involved with Chris Hurst, WDBJ7's 28-year-old health reporter.
"We didn't share this publicly, but Alison Parker and I were very much in love," he wrote on Facebook. We just moved in together. I am numb. We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday. She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back."
"She was extremely happy and she loved this guy with all her heart," Alison's father, Andy Parker, said on FOX News on Wednesday, standing next to Hurst. "And that's the toughest thing for me that she- Everybody that she touched loved her and she loved everybody back."
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