Hours after a man was seen live on television shooting to death a reporter and cameraman near Moneta, Virginia, early Wednesday, authorities say they’re looking for a former employee of the slain journalists’ station.
Law enforcement officials are searching for former WDBJ employee Vester L. Flanagan, who is driving a gray 2009 Mustang, said a representative of the Augusta County Sheriff’s Department in Virginia. The representative told CNN that authorities want to talk to Flanagan in connection with the deaths of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward but stopped short of calling him a suspect.
Meanwhile, schools near Moneta are on lockdown, and law enforcement, including the ATF and FBI, are furiously trying to find the person who killed Parker and Ward as they conducted a live interview around 6:45 a.m. with Vicki Gardner, a local chamber of commerce director. The story was a feature about an event at a lake near Moneta. Gardner was shot in the back and is in surgery, one of her colleagues told CNN.
As the camera fell to the ground, the audience got a glimpse of a man who appeared to pointing a gun toward the downed cameraman. The station cut away to a shocked anchor.
Parker is heard screaming over and over as shots are fired.
Authorities say the gunman may be a disgruntled WDBJ employee, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday in a live interview with WTOP radio. He said that police are pursuing the suspect and that they hope to have him in custody soon. McAuliffe said authorities know who the suspect is.
Authorities have a name and license plate number for a person believed to be the shooter, according to a law enforcement official.
The gunman is believed to have fired six or seven times, WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said.
Matthew Horace, a former executive with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told CNN that it’s likely that footage from closed-circuit security cameras around Bridgewater Plaza, where the shooting happened, are helping investigators identify the shooter and the kind of vehicle that person might have been driving.
Judging by the eight shots he heard in the video, Horace said, the shooter probably used a semiautomatic pistol.
Though nothing has linked the shooting to New York, the violence has highlighted gun violence fears outside Virginia, and local television stations in New York City are stepping up security.