What we know about the slain WDBJ journalists

Published: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 @ 1:15 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 @ 2:53 PM


            
            Photo credit: Twitter account @WDBJ7
(Photo credit: Twitter account @WDBJ7)

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A reporter and a photographer were shot and killed Wednesday while conducting a live interview for WDBJ. A former WDBJ employee, Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, who went by the on-air name of Bryce Williams, is the alleged shooter. He shot himself after a police chase, and later died while in custody. Here is what we know about the victims.

Who were the victims? A gunman shot and killed reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward while they were conducting a live interview that was being broadcast on WDBJ, a Virginia news station. The subject of the interview, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was also shot. She had emergency surgery and is recovering.

>>Read more about the shootings

Young, but promising future  ahead: Parker was 24, and Ward was 27. Parker graduated from James Madison University, and was an intern at WDBJ before being hired as the station’s “Mornin’” reporter, according to her WDBJ profile page. 

Ward, 27, was a Virginia Tech graduate, according to WDBJ. Ward had worked for the station since 2011. He was reportedly planning to follow his fiancée, WDBJ producer Melissa Ott, to North Carolina, where she was moving for a new job opportunity.

Parker and Ward worked together often, according to Parker’s boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.

WDBJ anchor Kimberly McBroom told NBC that Parker and Hurst were “fine journalists” who “always made their colleagues smile.”

WDBJ posted "A look at the lives of WDBJ7's Alison Parker and Adam Ward," which showed highlights from their brief but bright journalism careers.

Both were in relationships with WDBJ staffers:

Parker had been dating WDBJ evening anchor Chris Hurst for nine months. Hurst wrote a loving tribute to Parker on his Twitter account.

>>Read Hurst’s tribute to Parker

He also posted several photos of himself and Parker on his Facebook page.

We didn't share this publicly, but Alison Parker and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb. We...

Posted by Chris Hurst Wdbj on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ward was engaged to WDBJ producer Melissa Ott. Ward posted a photo of the couple’s engagement on his Facebook page.

CNN reported that Ott was in the WDBJ news control room at the time of the shootings.

Alison Parker's family releases statement

The family of Parker released a public statement addressing the death of their daughter on Wednesday afternoon. The family expressed how senseless the crime was and said they were "crushed" by the loss of their daughter.

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Burglary suspect tries to disguise face with plastic water-bottle case wrapper

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 12:05 AM

(ActionNewsJax.com)
(ActionNewsJax.com)

Police in Georgia have identified the suspect who burglarized a game store using an unusual disguise. 

The St. Marys Police Department said they have obtained an arrest warrant for 22-year-old Kerry Dean Hammond, Jr.

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According to police, surveillance video shows him running around the store with the plastic wrapper from a package of bottled water over his head. 

The break-in happened on April 13 around 1:30 a.m. 

The St. Marys Police Department shared the video to its Facebook page and said the “craftily disguised gent decided to burglarize GameStop.” 

The video has been viewed more than 17,000 times. 

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Erin Popovich, wife of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, has died

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 9:58 PM

In this April 22, 2017, file photo, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, left, talks with San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, in Memphis, Tenn. 
AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File
In this April 22, 2017, file photo, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, left, talks with San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)

The wife of San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich, Erin Popovich, has died, according to a statement from the Spurs. 

She was 67.

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She died early Wednesday, news outlets reported, after a long illness.

“We mourn the loss of Erin,” Spurs General Manager RC Buford said.

“She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us.”

The Popoviches were married for four decades.

Erin Popovich is survived by her husband, Gregg,  two children and two grandchildren.

The Popoviches met at the Air Force Academy in the 1970s when he was an assistant coach for the Falcons. Erin's father, Jim Conboy, was Air Force's head athletic trainer.

Gregg Popovich has coached the Spurs since 1996, leading the Spurs to five NBA titles.

>> Relatged: Former first lady Barbara Bush has died at her home in Texas at the age of 92

San Antonio will face the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.

The Warriors lead the series 2-0.

The Austin American-Statesman contributed to this report.

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Police: Hidden camera filmed Starbucks customers in bathroom

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 10:41 PM

A Starbucks sign is picured here. A woman discovered a hidden camera in a bathroom at a store in metro Atlanta. 
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A Starbucks sign is picured here. A woman discovered a hidden camera in a bathroom at a store in metro Atlanta. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Police in an Atlanta suburb are investigating after a woman discovered a hidden camera in a bathroom stall at a Starbucks in North Fulton County .

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Officers with the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety confiscated the camera and detectives are now looking into the case.

According to the police report, the camera had about 25 videos stored on it, and “several” of those videos showed people using the restroom.

A 25-year-old woman discovered the camera around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, police said. The camera was taped under the baby changing station in the women’s bathroom.

>> Related: Starbucks closing over 8,000 stores for racial-bias training after controversial arrest

“We were quite concerned to learn this and are grateful to our customers and partners who took action to involve local authorities,” a spokesperson for Starbucks wrote in an email. “We will continue to support them in any way we can.”

Police said the woman removed the camera and notified the manager on-duty. According to the police report, the woman gave the camera to the manager who said he would notify Starbucks’ corporate office, but she pushed him to call 911.

Police arrived after the manager filed a report with the corporate office. The manager gave police the camera, its battery pack and a USB cord. Police then reviewed the camera and found the videos.

No suspects have yet been identified, but the person responsible for the camera would at least face the charge of eavesdropping, which is a felony, police said.

>> Related: Starbucks CEO meets with 2 black men arrested in Philadelphia store

This incident comes as the company is facing backlash after two black men were arrested at one of its locations in Philadelphia last week. The company plans to close 8,000  stores for a day next month for company-wide racial bias training.

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Lawmakers press for more publicity on harassment settlements

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 10:34 PM

The head of the Capitol Hill office which deals with workplace harassment cases said Wednesday that she still does not have the power to reveal the names of lawmakers who used taxpayer dollars to pay legal harassment settlements, drawing sharp rebukes from members of both parties on a House spending panel, as lawmakers in both the House and Senate expressed growing frustration about the matter.

“The transparency issue is revolting,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “It is absolutely unacceptable that we continue to let members who abuse their employees hide.”

At a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Susan Grundmann, the head of the Congressional Office of Compliance, said that workplace settlements which involve lawmakers, often include non-disclosure agreements, precluding any publicity.

“Most settlement agreements – in fact all that I have seen – contain non-disclosure clauses in them,” said Grundmann. “Those are not by our doing.”

Pressed sharply by both parties at a hearing where she asked for a nine percent budget increase to help deal with harassment training and case reviews, Grundmann made clear there was no plan to reveal the names of members who had engaged in such settlements in the past.

“No, I think we are prohibited from under the law – in terms of the strict confidentiality that adheres to each one of our processes, and the non-disclosure agreements, we cannot disclose who they are,” Grundmann added.

Grundmann said new reporting standards approved by the House would reveal every six months which offices had some type of legal settlements – and she also said that if a lawmaker agreed to a workplace settlement, taxpayers would pay the bill up front – and then have that member of Congress reimburse Uncle Sam within 90 days.

So far, the House and Senate have not finalized an agreement on legislation to set new standards for transparency on workplace settlements involving lawmaker offices, as one leading Democrat today again demanded action by that chamber.

“The Senate has no more excuses,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Back in Wednesday’s House hearing, lawmakers did not like to hear that while reforms in the House would publicly name the lawmaker and/or a top staffer if they were involved in harassment of other staffers, a Senate reform plan would not be as sweeping.

“So, if a Chief of Staff engages in that conduct, or anyone else that isn’t the member, then their conduct is not disclosed?” Wasserman Schultz asked.

“That’s correct,” replied Grundmann.

“That’s absolutely unacceptable,” the Florida Democrat said.

The hearing came days after the resignation of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who had taxpayers foot the bill for an $84,000 settlement with a former office employee – Farenthold had promised to pay that money, but now that he is gone, it seems unlikely to happen.

Meanwhile, Grundmann denied press reports in recent weeks that any personal information about sexual harassment or workplace abuses in Congressional offices was left on unsecured computer servers.

“We have not been hacked. We have never stored our data on an unsecured server,” as Grundmann said their computer precautions had been described by officials as “Fort Knox.”

“Fort Knox doesn’t talk about their cyber security,” she added, offering to brief members in private about the issue

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