Angry WDBJ GM on suspect who fatally shot journalists: “I’m not really sure I want him to live or die”
ROANOKE, Virginia — WDBJ general manager Jeff Marks did not hold back in his anger over the deaths of his two young staffers, reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward, who were shot to death live on air.
Marks appeared on the station’s noon broadcast Wednesday which reported that the suspected gunman had been shot and was clinging to life. Marks said he wanted to “reflect” on the day’s tragedy.
“I’m not really sure I want him to live or die,” Marks said. “If he dies he took the coward’s way out.”
Marks said that as a journalist, “I’m speaking way out of turn,” but said that “On behalf of WDBJ, I wanted to let that little bit of anger out.”
Sniffling could be heard off screen as Marks spoke.
The suspected gunman was identified as Vester Flanagan, who went by the on air name of Bryce Williams. Flanagan was dismissed from the station two years ago.
Earlier on Wednesday, Marks and his staff had the impossible task of reporting the deaths of Parker and Ward.
Following the gun shots during the 6:45 a.m. interview, the studio immediately cut to anchor Kimberly McBroom.
“Okay, I’m not sure what happened there,” said a shocked McBroom with her mouth agape. “We will, of course, let you know as soon as we find out.”
Marks, his white hair mussed, had to go on air to confirm the deaths of two of his co-workers.
“It is my very, very sad duty to report that we have determined through the police and our own employees that Alison and Adam died this morning,” Marks said. “Our hearts are broken.”
He also said that the two were loved and in love at the station.
At one point Marks said, “You send people into a war zone and into dangerous places, riots, and you’re afraid they’re going to get hurt. You send people out to do a story on tourism, how can you expect this to happen?”
Marks thanked rival news organizations for helping to report on news the station couldn’t get to on Wednesday and law enforcement for helping. He said for a while the station kept all of its employees inside the building.
The station also showed a segment that honored the work of both Parker and Ward.
WDBJ is a CNN affiliate that has been on air since 1955, and is own by Schurz Communications. It is known locally by its slogan “Your Hometown News Leader.”
“They were the kindest nicest people who worked here,” Marks told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield earlier on Wednesday.