Survivor of live tv shooting speaks out; ‘I played dead’

Published: Wednesday, October 07, 2015 @ 6:39 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 07, 2015 @ 6:39 PM

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A month after WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed on live television, Vicki Gardner has spoken out about her experience as the lone survivor in a situation that shook America.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, Gardner told Cooper, “I’m very thankful to be here.”

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Gardner, 62, is the executive director of Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. Parker and Ward were interviewing her at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Virginia for the approaching 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake.

 

“My heart goes out to their families and everyone that loved them,” said Gardner of Parker and Ward.

Parker and Ward were targeted by Vester Lee Flanagan II, a former reporter at WDBJ who went by the name Bryce Williams. Flanagan was fired from WDBJ in 2013 on

terms of disruptive conduct. He stated that his motive for killing the television employees was based on previous instances of racial discrimination he claimed he experienced in interactions with Parker and Ward.

In regards to her own condition, Gardner says she’s improving. After being shot in the back, she has undergone multiple surgeries, losing her kidney and part of her colon in the process.

But Gardner is happy to have her life. She says she thought Flanigan was going to shoot her in the head.

“I am the luckiest person in the world,” she told WDBJ.

When asked by Cooper if she knew what was going on once Flanagan started firing bullets, Gardner answered, “yes and no.”

“It was very very fast,” she said. “When (Adam) was hit, I immediately-- without necessarily thinking-- I dropped to the ground exactly when he did. I basically was in a fetal position, and I played dead,” Gardner added.

Despite the difficulty of enduring the tragedy, Gardner told Cooper that she watched video of the shooting that had been broadcast on television.

“It was hard to watch, but I want to know what happened,” she said.

Gardner, whose daughter is a teacher, also expressed sadness about the shooting that took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Oct. 1.

“That is sick,” she said. “Where does it end?”

Gardner is working to develop Vicki’s Vision, an idea to create a central gathering place at Smith Mountain Lake to honor Parker and Ward.

 

Read the full statement she released to WDBJ here.


Congress slides into a government shutdown, as Democrats derail temporary budget in Senate

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:16 PM

In a high stakes game of legislative chicken, the U.S. Senate on Friday night blocked a House-passed bill to fund operations of the federal government for the next four weeks, as most Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans to filibuster the spending measure, demanding faster action on immigration matters, driving the Congress toward the first federal government shutdown since 2013.

The vote was 50 to 49 – 60 votes were needed.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump had met with Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer at the White House – but while they seemed to make some progress, there was no final deal.

And Mr. Trump made clear who was to blame.

A handful of members from both parties broke with their leaders on the Senate vote, which would have shut off debate on the four week spending measure approved on Thursday by the House.

Mainly because of the impasse over DACA and immigration, several Republicans refused to join with the President, as they voted against the plan.

“I believe no one wants the government to shut down,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “I also believe that we are inside the ten yard line on finding solutions on all issues.”

Other Republican “no” votes included Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Democrats voting to end debate included five from states which were won by President Trump: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO), and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9DjtAfhZFY&w=640&h=390]

For many Democrats, the biggest thing missing from a temporary budget plan was something concrete on the DACA program, to deal with close to 700,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” now in the United States.

In the various Congressional office buildings, immigration activists and many Dreamers joined in demonstrations for their cause.

But Republicans argued that backers of DACA relief were not interested in doing enough to stop people from coming illegally in the future.

“We want to be able to resolve this, but it has to be resolved with border security attached to it,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).

“There’s a deal here that could be struck very quickly,” argued Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

But signs of a late agreement did not seem to be there for Senators as the clock ticked toward midnight, a reminder that many hours had been spent in recent months on the issue, so far – to no avail.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Congressional leaders would try to broker a deal.

President Trump stayed at the White House Friday night instead of flying as scheduled to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida. It’s not clear if he will go there on Saturday for a party to mark his first year in office.

 

Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, family says 

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:15 PM

Tom Petty Death Caused By Accidental Drug Overdose

Tom Petty died from an accidental drug overdose after taking a variety of medications, the family for the legendary rock star said Friday. 

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Petty, who suffered emphysema, knee problems and more recently a fractured hip, was prescribed various pain medications including Fentanyl patches, his family said. 

“On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication,” his family wrote on Facebook

The family called Petty’s Oct. 2 death an unfortunate accident. 

“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

DOVER, DE - JUNE 22: Tom Petty performs onstage at the Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway on June 22, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly Music Festival)(Theo Wargo)

Drake makes surprise appearance at Memphis nightclub

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 10:47 PM

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09:  Drake attends
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09: Drake attends "The Carter Effect" premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 9, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)(Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

He may have started from the bottom, but rapper Drake is making headlines after doing one dance that started in the Bluff City.

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According to party promoter Curtis Givens, the Grammy winner called him wanting to have a private party at In LOVE Memphis, a popular nightclub.

Givens said it was a last minute call, but he and his business partner were up for the challenge.

As word quickly spread that Drake was in Memphis, videos started to popping up on social media.

He was seen doing the popular "shoot" dance made famous by Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB.

About Last Night Wit My Bro🔥💯 @champagnepapi

A post shared by BlocBoy JB 💯💯💯 (@blocboy_jb) on

Drake even previewed new music during his appearance at the club.
He also made a stop at Friday night's Grizzlies game against the Sacramento Kings.

Drake is no stranger to the area. His father, Dennis Graham, is from Memphis, and Drake is known to visit frequently.

Woman dies after falling from balcony of Carnival cruise ship

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:54 PM

Carnival Cruise Elation. (Photo: ActionNewsJax.com)
Carnival Cruise Elation. (Photo: ActionNewsJax.com)

A woman died Friday after falling from the balcony of a room on the Jacksonville-based Carnival Elation cruise ship.

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The woman fell from the balcony to several decks below, Carnival said in a statement.

Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville on Thursday for a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.

Carnival sent the following statement to Action News Jax:
"Early this morning a guest fell from her balcony to several decks below. The ship’s medical team responded immediately, but, unfortunately, she passed away. The incident was reported to all proper authorities and CARE Team support was offered to fellow travelers and her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and her family. Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville Jan. 18 on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas."