28 Aug 2015

US TV station mourns murdered journalists

6:55 am on 28 August 2015

Staff at a US TV station in Virginia have held a minute's silence in memory of the two journalists shot dead by an ex-colleague live on air.

Virginia residents pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward.

Virginia residents pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Photo: AFP

"We will, over time, heal from this," WDBJ7 anchor Kim McBroom told viewers, holding hands with two colleagues.

Vester Flanagan died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after he shot dead reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward on Wednesday.

The attack has prompted renewed calls for stricter gun control laws.

Memos from the station reveal Flanagan, who used the on-air name of Bryce Williams, had been ordered by the station's bosses to seek medical help before he was fired in February 2013.

He filmed the attack and posted it on social media. In a 23-page fax he sent to ABC News, he described himself as a "human powder keg".

WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27.

Photo: Twiter / WDBJ7-TV

Colleagues at WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Virginia, held a moment of silence at 6:45am on Thursday - 24 hours on from the exact moment the reporter and cameraman were shot dead as they broadcast live from a shopping centre in Moneta.

"Joining hands here on the desk," said Ms McBroom. "It's the only way to do it."

Outside the channel's headquarters in Roanoke, bunches of flowers and black ribbons have been placed in memory of the two slain journalists.

Internal memos from Dan Dennison, then news chief of WDBJ, show concerns about Vester Flanagan's "aggressive" behaviour towards colleagues, which he said made them feel "threatened and uncomfortable".

In July 2012, Flanagan was instructed to contact a health service for employees or face being sacked.

Mr Dennison said on Wednesday Flanagan had complained of racial discrimination but "all these allegations were deemed to be unfounded".

Flanagan had to be escorted from the building by police when he was fired "because he was not going to leave willingly", he added.

Alison Parker (left) was interviewing chamber of commerce director Vicki Gardner.

Alison Parker (left) was and chamber of commerce director Vicki Gardner in a video still from before the shooting. Photo: AFP / WDBJ7-TV

In the fax to ABC News sent by Flanagan under his professional name, he said his anger had been "building steadily" and a recent attack on black church-goers in Charleston, South Carolina, had driven him to "tipping point".

But he also praised the gunmen behind mass shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech University in 2007.

Late on Wednesday, a representative for Flanagan's family issued a statement expressing their "deepest condolences to the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward".

Alison Parker's father said his family had lost their "bright, shining light".

Ms Parker was conducting a live interview with a guest on tourism for the breakfast show, filmed by Mr Ward, when suddenly shots rang out, and viewers saw the camera fall to the ground.

Screams could be heard and the footage captured a brief glimpse of the gunman. Flanagan later posted a video online he had filmed himself of the shooting at close range, which was subsequently removed by Twitter and Facebook. He killed himself after a police chase.

The interviewee, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, is in a stable condition in hospital following surgery.

President Barack Obama repeated his call for tougher gun laws after the attack, but Republican presidential hopefuls Jim Gilmore and Ben Carson have warned against any rush to introduce tougher gun controls.