WDBJ morning team copes on air after fired reporter kills crew on live TV

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Thursday, August 27, 2015
Investigation continues after crew shot on live TV
The morning team at Roanoke station WDBJ showed up to work on Thursday with "heavy hearts" after two of their own were shot and killed during a live report Wednesday.

MONETA, Va. -- The Roanoke station WDBJ went on the air Thursday morning, the day after two of their journalists were shot and killed live on air.

The 5 a.m. newscast began with the words "In Memory" and an image of the two victims, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. The morning news team choked up as they reminisced about their slain colleagues.

"We come to you with heavy hearts. Two of our own were shot during a live shot yesterday morning," Anchor Kim McBroom said.

PHOTOS: WDBJ community copes after reporter, photographer killed by gunman

McBroom, who was on the air just after the shooting, noted the outpouring of support that followed the deaths.

"We've had a lot of help," she added, before introducing Steve Grant, an anchor from a Missouri station who came to town to help.

The station then went into a series of news pieces on the shooting, including ones about the criminal investigation, church services and a vigil at the White House.

Parker and Ward were fatally shot during a live interview Wednesday on WDBJ-TV's Mornin' show. The team observed a moment of silence on air for its two journalists at 6:45 a.m., the moment Parker and Ward were killed. During the moment of silence, WDBJ showed photos of the two victims.

VIDEO: WDBJ anchor team holds moment of silence

Just before the moment of silence, McBroom joined hands with meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner and Grant.

"Joining hands here on the desk. It's the only way to do it," she said.

The boyfriend of Parker, station anchor Chris Hurst, appeared at the station where both worked on Thursday, telling his co-workers and viewers that he wants to tell his girlfriend's story even as he grieves.

Hurst recalled how Parker's voice could light up a room with its kindness and joy, and how excited she was about her work, including an upcoming piece on hospice care.

"Alison, what great things she could have done," he said.

Hurst also said he will take a brief break from his anchor role. McBroom, her voice faltering at times, reflected on Hurst's relationship with Parker. She told Hurst they "were like Barbie and Ken -- just the perfect couple."

A grief counselor joined the newscasters at the anchor desk for a segment. Counselor Thomas Milam said it's important to respect that people grieve in different ways and give them space to do so. He also said it's important to comfort children who may have seen coverage or had their schools on lock down.

The team also read a statement from the father of the reporter killed on air just a day earlier. The statement from Andy Parker says: "Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful and immensely talented Alison was taken from the world. This is senseless, and our family is crushed."

Their morning meteorologist repeatedly mentioned how hard it was to do the weather that morning. Hirsbrunner recalled how Ward would check in with him every morning about the weather before he went out on assignment.

"I don't even know how to do weather on a day like this." His voice trembled at times while he gave the temperatures around the Roanoke area.

McBroom told him: "Good job, partner. We're going to get through this together."

Hurst appeared on Good Morning America Thursday, along with Jeffrey A. Marks, the station's general manager.

"I want everyone to know that she was not only a fantastic journalist, and was well on her way to a remarkable career, but she was good at everything she attempted," Hurst said of Parker.

Vicki Gardner, the surviving victim of the on-air shooting, is now in good condition, according to the Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Her husband, Tim, appeared Thursday on the Mornin' show. His wife was being interviewed Wednesday for a live segment of the same show when the shooting began.

On Thursday, Gardner stood before a memorial set up to the victims outside the station in Roanoke. A reporter from a sister station in Missouri who came to Virginia to help grieving staff interviewed him.

Gardner noted the support from friends and the community, saying anyone who wants to help can pray for his wife or go out and enjoy Smith Mountain Lake. Vicki Gardner is the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, and she's been described as a champion for the area. She was being interviewed about local tourism when she was wounded.

READ MORE: Fired reporter kills two journalists at former station on live TV

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.