NEW YORK — Extra police officers will be on patrol Wednesday outside New York City’s television news stations in the wake of a tragic and horrifying shooting in Virginia where two young journalists were gunned down on live TV allegedly by a former colleague.
The New York Police Department said the move was taken “out of an abundance of caution.”
“While there is no indication of any threat to media outlets beyond this incident, we have provided an additional layer of security until we have a fuller understanding of the motive behind the Virginia incident,” NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism and Intelligence John J. Miller said in a statement.
Between two and four police officers were posted outside the News Building — where PIX11 News has its offices — in Midtown Manhattan as part of the beefed up security.
During WDBJ’s morning newscast, reporter Alison Parker was in the middle of a live interview when shots rang out.
Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, were killed at Bridgewater Plaza near Moneta, the station reported later. The woman being interviewed, Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back and is in surgery, said Barb Nocera, the chamber’s special projects manager said.
Ward’s fiancée was in the control room and saw the shooting, WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks told CNN.
The gunman is believed to have fired six or seven times, Marks said.
Police suspect a former employee of wielding the weapon that killed the pair. Vester Flanagan, who used the name Bryce Williams on air, joined the station in 2012 and was fired about a year later, an ex-employee told CNN. The reason for his firing was not made public, the ex-employee said.
Two videos posted on a Twitter account under the name, Bryce Williams, show someone walking up to the WDBJ news crew and pointing a gun at them.
Another tweet says, “I filmed the shooting.” The Facebook and Twitter account were suspended shortly after the tweets.
One of the videos shows the gunman approaching WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward as Parker conducted a routine interview about a local story outside Moneta, Virginia.
Ward’s back is to the gunman. Parker is in profile, and the interviewee is facing the gunman. The shooter appears to take his time aiming the gun, presenting it and then withdrawing it, before composing the angle of his video. He opens fire on Parker first. Both Parker and the interviewee scream.
On air, the audience saw the camera fall to the ground and caught the briefest glimpse of a man who appeared to point a gun toward the downed cameraman.
When officers arrived at the scene, Flanagan was nowhere to be found. Just before 11:30 a.m., a Virginia State Police officer spotted the suspect’s car heading east on Interstate 66.
With emergency lights activated, a Virginia State Police trooper initiated a traffic stop, said police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
The driver refused to stop and sped away before running off the road and crashing, Geller told CNN. Troopers found the driver inside. He had suffered a gunshot wound.
He was airlifted to a hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries and later died, authorities said.