On August 26, 2015, journalist Alison Parker and Adam Ward, her camera operator, arrived at their workplace prepared to broadcast.
Vicki Gardner, the executive director of the Moneta Chamber of Commerce, was interviewed by Parker and Ward on-site that day. Parker was employed by WDBJ7, a Roanoke-based news station in Virginia.
However, during the interview, gunshots were heard.
The gunman was momentarily captured on Ward’s camera, with all three individuals tumbling to the floor, Parker, Gardner, and Ward, as the camera continued to stream live.
This is the chilling story of Alison Parker’s last seconds of life, captured by the killer who posted the footage online.
The On-Air Murder of Alison Parker and Adam Ward
Alison Parker was born in August 1991 and grew up in Martinsville, Virginia. After graduating from James Madison University, she began an internship at WDBJ7 in Roanoke in 2014, where she landed an enviable position as a correspondent for the morning channel.
That position would put Parker in a risky situation.
On the morning of August 26, 2015, Vicki Gardner interviewed Parker Ward and Parker Smith about the nearby 50th anniversary celebration of Lake Mountain. They prepared for their assignment to cover the event.
Then, amidst the live transmission, a man clad in black and wielding a firearm approached.
At 6:45 a.M., The gunman fired his Glock 19 at Alison Parker as she curled into a fetal position in an attempt to play dead. After shooting Vicki Gardner and Adam Ward, he turned the weapon back on himself.
In total, the shooter discharged 15 rounds. The camera persisted in broadcasting, capturing anguished cries from the casualties.
The journalists tried to cut back to the studio where they had witnessed the chaos, as the gunman fled the scene.
An ambulance rushed Gardner to the hospital. She survived after emergency surgery. When the police arrived at the scene of the shooting, Ward and Parker had already died.
Ward passed away as a result of bullets to his cranium and upper body, whereas she lost her life due to gunshot injuries to her cranium and thorax. The incident that claimed her life happened only a few days following Alison Parker’s 24th birthday.
The Shooter’s Reason
With a sinking sensation, they identified him, becoming motionless as they watched the shooter on the screen, while Alison Parker’s astonished coworkers analyzed the horrifying video at the broadcasting station.
“Everyone who was gathered around it exclaimed, ‘That’s Vester,'” stated general manager Jeffrey Marks. They promptly contacted the sheriff’s department.
His coworkers had complained about feeling uncomfortable or threatened around him at the station. Lee Vester Flanagan, the shooter, once worked for WDBJ7 until he was fired.
Flanagan was fired from the news station for exhibiting “unusual behavior” after he was caught threatening to go to another station earlier. It wasn’t the first time he had been let go.
The police escorted him from the building. They fired him in 2012 and hired him at the station a year later. Flanagan had a track record of aggressive and unpredictable behavior during his time at WDBJ7.
The disgruntled reporter had apparently planned the shooting and later rented a car to flee the crime scene. The police were already searching for him as his confession was tweeted by the killer.
According to the perpetrator, Vester Lee Flanagan, Ward went to the human resources department “after collaborating with me on one occasion!!!” Flanagan clarified that he chose to target Alison Parker and Adam Ward because both of them refused to collaborate with him.
At 11:14 a.M., Flanagan posted videos of the shooting on his Facebook profile. The explicit footage quickly spread across different social media platforms.
Then, as the police were closing in, Vester Lee Flanagan collided his vehicle, inflicted a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and perished.
The Consequences of Parker and Ward’s Homicides
The memorial service for the journalists was held by the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, together with their WDBJ7 colleagues.
Marks expressed on live television, “Alison and Adam, members of the WDBJ7 team, were deeply cherished. Our hearts are shattered.”
Disturbing videos of the shooting incident involving Alison Parker, Adam Ward, and Vicki Gardner quickly started circulating on various social media platforms.
Since 2015, Andy Parker, the father of Alison, has battled to prevent his daughter’s homicide from being shared on the internet.
Mr. Parker lodged a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in 2020, targeting YouTube. In the subsequent year, he filed another complaint against Facebook.
Parker argued that these websites did not remove the video of Alison’s killing.
During an October 2021 press briefing, Mr. Parker stated, “The dissemination of Alison’s killing on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube is merely one of the reprehensible activities that are eroding the foundation of our society.” Mr. Parker proclaimed, “The act of sharing violent material and committing murder does not fall under the category of free expression; instead, it embodies brutality.”
Congress hopes to pass legislation that prevents gaining an audience on social media from similar tragedies. Mr. Parker hopes that his family and friends will never have to experience the terrifying moments that Alison Parker’s death brought upon them, even after years.
Linked to social networking platforms, the tragic demise of Alison Parker is just one of numerous cases. On the internet, Takahiro Shiraishi, famously known as the “Twitter killer”, preyed on his victims. Skylar Neese, a teenager who fell victim to relentless bullying, was murdered by her closest companions. Discover more about these individuals shortly.