The Virginia journalists who were shot to death during a live broadcast Wednesday morning were energetic employees who could “brighten up the room,” colleagues said.
They were both about to begin exciting new chapters in their personal lives. Adam Ward was engaged to be married, Alison Parker had just started a serious relationship nine months ago — and both their partners were part of their WDBJ7 station family in rural Virginia.
Parker, who just turned 24, and Ward, 27, were killed when a gunman stormed their live interview, firing several shots just before 7 a.m. at a shopping center in Moneta, Virginia.
The station confirmed both were killed. Officials said a third person had been shot, and said they were searching for the suspect.
In wall-to-wall coverage of the shooting, apparently shell-shocked WDBJ7 correspondents and general manager Jeffrey Marks remembered the two as dedicated journalists who always made their colleagues smile.
“They were special people,” anchor Kimberly McBroom said. “They would brighten up the room every morning.”
“Today was just like any other day, and they did great work every day and put their all into everything they did,” McBroom added. Immediately after the shooting, the broadcast cut to McBroom in the studio as she first registered the shock.
Marks called the two “fine journalists.”
Parker, an on-air reporter, and Ward, a photographer, were both in romantic relationships with other people at WDBJ7, according to Mike Morgan, who works in the station’s promotions department. Parker dated evening news anchor Chris Hurst, and Ward was engaged to producer Melissa Ott.
Hurst shared a photo of himself and Parker on Twitter, saying they were “very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb.”
He and Parker had started dating nearly nine months ago, he said, calling those “the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married.”
“She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother,” he tweeted.
Parker started at WDBJ7 as an intern. She grew up outside of Martinsville, Virginia, and graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg in 2012, according to her biography on the station’s site.
Ward had been working for the station sine July 2011, when he graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in communication and media studies, according to his LinkedIn profile.