WDBJ reporter’s father criticizes senators for not calling family – CNN International
Washington (CNN)The father of the Virginia reporter killed by a former co-worker this week criticized U.S. senators in the state for not reaching out to his family.
“The first official to call me was [Gov.] Terry McAuliffe. I have not heard a word from Sen. [Tim] Kaine. And I have not heard a word from Sen. [Mark] Warner,” Andy Parker, father of victim Alison Parker, told reporters Friday.
“I see the tweets and all of that stuff that says, ‘Oh gee, we’re sorry for the family,’ and I understand that. And I appreciate that, but I knew those two guys,” said Parker, who unsuccessfully ran for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2007 as a Democrat.
“They campaigned for me when I ran for the House of Delegates. And it’s very disappointing that Sens. Kaine and Warner haven’t at least given me a call and come out against this,” he said.
The unexpected complaint surprised Kaine’s staff members, who quickly issued a statement explaining why Kaine, who was on official travel in Alaska when the shooting occurred, had not called Parker.
“Senator Kaine is heartbroken by the horrific shooting that took the lives of Alison Parker and Adam Ward and seriously injured Vicki Gardner. Senator Kaine has not yet reached out to the victims’ families out of respect for their space and privacy during this difficult time of grieving. At the appropriate time, he looks forward to working side-by-side with the families and all Virginians who want to push tougher legislation through Congress to reduce gun violence and prevent such tragedies from happening here and across the country,” said Amy Dudley, Kaine’s spokeswoman.
And a spokesman for Warner told CNN early Friday evening that the senator didn’t immediately reach out to Parker because he “wanted to be respectful of the family’s privacy at a time of unimaginable grief.” The spokesman added that Warner left a message with Parker Friday afternoon.
Kaine was Virginia’s governor in 2007 during the Virginia Tech shooting, when a gunman killed 32 students and educators on campus. He criticized the National Rifle Association earlier this year on the eighth anniversary of the shooting for working to block state and federal efforts to adopt more strict gun-purchasing background checks, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
For his part, Warner voted in 2013 to expand background checks for gun purchases.
“I think part of it is as politicians, we live in a very conservative state, but again, it’s time to do something, folks. Stand up. Take a stand. And do something,” Parker said.
On Wednesday morning, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, both employees of TV station WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, were shot to death while doing a live report from a shopping district near Moneta, Virginia. The person they were interviewing, Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back and underwent surgery.
The shooter, Vester Flanagan, fled the scene and later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound when he was confronted by police.