HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Tears were shed in the newsroom of WSAZ-TV Wednesday morning when word started to spread that a Roanoke, Va., reporter and cameraman had been gunned done while doing a live report.
“They’re watching this and they can put themselves in the place of the crew in the field, the producer back in the studio who watched her fiance gunned down on TV,” WSAZ News Director Dan Fabrizio told MetroNews.
Allison Parker and Adam Ward were doing something they had down dozens of times when former co-worker Vester Flanigan, aka Bryce Williams, walked up and killed them.
“It’s a wake-up call in the sense that it happened so suddenly and so violently but not that it happened at all. We know there are bad people out there, there just are,” Fabrizio said.
Flanigan posted the shooting on social media and later was found by police after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m. Wednesday.
Fabrizio said the tragedy serves as a reminder to reporters to be alert and safe as possible. He doesn’t believe it will significantly change live reporting.
“Many (safety changes) have already occurred. We know already what it’s like out there that anything can happen at any time. It’s of utmost importance that at the forefront of everyone’s mind when they go out is to come back safely,” Fabrizio said.
WSAZ’s policy gives the decision making power to the crew in the field to determine if a situation is unsafe.
Posts to social media by Flanigan indicate he had a beef with both Parker and Ward before he was fired last year. The tragedy may serve as a reminder for all workplaces, Fabrizio said.
“Everybody’s awareness should be raised here about workplace violence, the signs to look for and what to do when you spot them,” he said.