By SARAH GRAMMER
Disgruntled former reporter for WDBJ7, Vester Lee Flanagan II, fired
17 shots during a live broadcast in Roanoke Va. on Wednesday Aug 26.
Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, were
conducting an interview with chamber of commerce, Vicki Gardner when
Flanagan approached them and began firing. After the first shots were
fired the camera kept rolling and fully recorded the incident on film.
Both Parker and Ward were killed at the scene, due to shots in the
head and torso. Gardner suffered a shot to the back and without
knowing the extent of her injury she was able to walk from the scene
to an ambulance.
Flanagan fled in a rented car, which was discovered traveling down
Interstate 66 in Fauquier County five hours after the incident
occurred. He further refused to pull over when police arrived and
ended up shooting himself and crashing his vehicle.
Upon further investigation of Flanagan’s rental car and property,
police discovered a to- do list, a wig, three license plates, 17
stamped letters, ammunition and two Glock handguns.
Two hours following the shooting, Flanagan faxed a document to ABC
News that was 23 pages long. Flanagan cited the Charleston shooting on
June 17 and his own statement of racial discrimination and sexual
harassment behind his decision to shoot. According to the letter, he
purchased his weapon legally two days following the Charleston
News outlets such as WHCS are receiving comments suggesting that this
tragic event could not have been prevented, but the UMW community
Adjunct professor of journalism, Edythe Evans, sees this tragic
incident as easily preventable and a reason to discuss gun control.
Evans says, “We can put men on the moon, but we can’t have a calm,
rational conversation in this country about how to protect the
constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to bear arms while also
protecting the inalienable rights of law-abiding citizens to go about
their daily lives without fear of being shot to death.”
Evans says incidents like the Roanoke shooting will continue to happen
as long as the process for a background check “remains easier than
getting access to affordable, quality mental health care.”
Evans made a point to say that she does not think guns are the only
weapons the mentally unstable can possess.
“But crazy people do disproportionately more fatal things with guns,”
UMW students who are aware of the incident have expressed similar
viewpoints. Junior accounting major, Sean Dorman believes the incident
to be tragic and says, “If someone goes nuts, it will happen with or
without a background check. You can talk about background checks all
you want, but they don’t always work.”
While both Evans and Dorman have strong opinions on the subject,
others like Junior GIS major, Matt Lindsay said that he “[didn’t] know
a lot about it.”
Lindsay says he saw both videos of the incident online and found, “the
second video especially disturbing.”