Grieving WDBJ-TV presenters go back on air

Kim McBroom joins hands with weatherman Leo Hirsbrunner. Picture: AP
Kim McBroom joins hands with weatherman Leo Hirsbrunner. Picture: AP
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ONE day after the on-air killings of a reporter and cameraman shocked millions across the world, grieving staff at WDBJ-TV came together for an emotional broadcast of its breakfast show.

At 6:45am – the time of the shooting that took the lives of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward – the station observed a moment’s silence, showing the victims’ photos on the screen.

The show's anchor Chris Hurst, right, hugs Hirsbrunner. Picture: AP

The show's anchor Chris Hurst, right, hugs Hirsbrunner. Picture: AP

Presenter Kim McBroom, who was on the anchor desk during the shooting, joined hands with weatherman Leo Hirsbrunner and fellow host Steve Grant, who came in from sister station KYTV in Springfield, Missouri.

“Joining hands here on the desk. It’s the only way to do it,” she said just before the moment of silence.

During his forecast, Hirsbrunner’s voice trembled as he recalled how Ward would check in with him every morning about the weather before going out on assignment.

“I don’t even know how to do weather on a day like this,” he said. McBroom told him: “Good job, partner. We’re going to get through this together.”

The shooting happened during a live TV interview at a shopping mall as tens of thousands of viewers watched. Within hours, the carnage carried out by a disgruntled former colleague had spread to millions of viewers.

Shortly after the shooting, social media posts referencing the murdered pair surfaced on an account under an on-air pseudonym used by the gunman – culminating with a first-person video of the ambush filmed by the shooter.

Yesterday’s broadcast included a series of news pieces on the shooting. One looked at the criminal investigation of gunman Vester Lee Flanagan a former WDBJ-TV reporter known to viewers by his on-air name Bryce Williams. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the shooting.

His family released a statement expressing condolences to the victims’ families. “Words cannot express the hurt that we feel,” it read.

The social media post made through an account under the Bryce Williams name had a 56-second video clip. It shows Flanagan quietly approach Ms Parker and Mr Ward, gun in hand, as they conduct an interview. Mr Ward’s camera was aimed at the mini-golf course nearby instead of the reporter.

The gunman waited, cursing Ms Parker under his breath, for 20 seconds until the live television picture was back on the reporter. Then he fired eight shots without saying a word.

The interview was done at a shopping centre not yet open for the day, some 25 miles away from WDBJ’s studios in Roanoke. The station publicised where the reporter would be, including an update on Twitter just 30 minutes before the shooting.