Virginia Shooting Latest Event in Cruel Summer of High Profile Shootings Across America
WASHINGTON – Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, and Jennifer Herrera, the volunteer chapter leader for the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action today released the following statements in response to this morning’s shooting during a live newscast on WDBJ-TV at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Virginia. Everytown previously released a statement, found here, from Colin Goddard, Virginia Tech shooting survivor and Senior Policy Advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety.
STATEMENT FROM SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Alison and Adam’s families, WDBJ-TV and the Moneta community today. As details unfold about this horrifying on-air murder, here’s what we know for sure: Alison Parker and Adam Ward went to work this morning to simply do their jobs – cover the news – but instead they became the day’s news when they were shot and killed by a disgruntled, former co-worker. And this wasn’t the only shooting that took place today in this country. America is the most dangerous country for women in the developed world when it comes to gun violence: women are 11 times more likely to be killed here with a gun than in other countries. And workplace gun violence is a real threat to public safety – since 2009, there have been at least six mass shootings at the shooter’s current or former workplace.”
“The gun lobby’s ongoing response to a long, cruel summer of senseless, preventable gun violence is to say Americans ought to be armed and at the ready at every moment. But, as we saw in the horrifying footage from this morning’s shooting, that’s an insane proposition. Was Adam supposed to hold a gun in one hand, and operate his camera with the other? Should Alison have carried both a microphone and a firearm? Moms will not be silent and allow the gun lobby’s rhetoric and propaganda to take hold in this country. Americans are being shot and killed in places we should be able go every day without fear: work, school, church and the movies. Our leaders can no longer ignore the dire need for common-sense public safety measures that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. It’s time to ask them: ‘Do you stand with Americans or do you stand with the gun lobby?’”
STATEMENT FROM JENNIFER HERRERA, VOLUNTEER CHAPTER LEADER—VIRGINIA CHAPTER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION:
“Today’s tragedy has shaken communities well beyond those in the Commonwealth. As a mom, I do everything I can to protect my children, but I know through my work with Moms Demand Action there is more we can do as a nation to prevent the senseless gun violence that is invading the places we should be safe: work, school, church, at the movie theater. We watched this scene play out on live TV—a horrifying depiction of what gun violence looks like. This is not the kind of reality TV we want to see—but it was a glimpse of the everyday gun violence that kills and injures so many Americans when the cameras aren’t rolling. Every day, 88 Americans including seven children and teens are shot and killed. This is not the kind of country we want to live in. We must work together to call on our elected leaders to reduce gun violence, and if they don’t, we will find new ones who will.”
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, VA ON-AIR SHOOTING: AUGUST 26, 2015:
During a live broadcast from WDBJ-TV, a former employee of the TV station shot and killed the on-air reporter and cameraman, and shot and wounded a local woman being interviewed. The shooting was broadcast live on WDBJ, and shortly afterwards, the shooter used his personal social media accounts to share first-person videos of the shooting. After a four-hour police chase, the killer shot and killed himself inside of a rental car.
- At 6:45 a.m., during a taping of a report on area tourism for local TV station WDBJ-TV at Bridgewater Plaza, the shooter shot and killed Alison Parker, 24, the on-air reporter, Adam Ward, 27, the cameraman, and shot and wounded the woman they were interviewing, director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Vicki Gardner. The shooting was broadcast live on WDBJ.
- Gardner was shot once in the back and underwent surgery at an area hospital. She was released from surgery after four hours in stable condition, and is expected to survive.
- The suspect fled the scene in his personal car and drove to Roanoke Regional Airport, where he switched vehicles, to a car he had rented earlier in the month, and continued to flee north on Interstate 81.
- Some time after the shootings, the shooter used his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts to post videos he took immediately before and during the shooting. In his posts he also alleged that Parker had previously made racial comments towards him and claimed that the station had failed to act on his complaints.
- At 11:30 a.m., after police located the suspect on I-81, he drove off the road and shot himself while still in his rental car. He was airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital and died at 1:26 p.m.
- Alison Parker, 24, a reporter for WDBJ-TV, was on-camera when she was shot. She died at the scene.
- Adam Ward, 27, the videographer, was filming Parker when he was shot, and died at the scene.
- Vicki Gardner, director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was being interviewed on camera by Parker when she was shot in the back. Gardner underwent surgery at an area hospital and was released after four hours in stable condition. Her injuries were characterized by the hospital as non-life threatening.
- The shooter was a 41-year-old from Roanoke, VA. He was an on-air reporter for WDBJ from 2012-2013.
- A search of public databases, Virginia’s Judicial System online records, Kentucky’s Court of Justice online records, and North Carolina Department of Corrections records does not yield evidence that the suspect had a criminal history that would prohibit gun ownership.
- In 2004 in Pitt County, NC, the suspect was arrested for having an altered, fictitious, or revoked driver’s license, a traffic misdemeanor. The charge was later dismissed.
- The suspect had a history of writing and reporting on gun rights.
- In 2012, shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he reported from a gun show for WDBJ to get the perspective of people there on the shooting. John Pierce, the founder of opencarry.org, and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, applauded the suspect’s appearance at the show.
- In 2013, an account under the suspect’s name posted a presentation about gun violence prevention laws, in which he cited philosophers including John Locke and expressed support for the right to self-preservation by any means.
ABC News reported that some time in the 12 hours preceding the shooting, someone claiming to be the suspect faxed a 23-page letter to the station. In the letter, the author reportedly expressed admiration for the shooters at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University.
- The author wrote that he had suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work, had been attacked by black men and white females, and attacked for being a gay, black man, writing, “Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”
- The letter reportedly read: “What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”
- According to ABC, the author wrote that he wanted to start a race war and that he had put a deposit down on a handgun within two days of the Charleston shooting: “The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!! As for (the Charleston shooter)? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!”
- The author wrote that “Jehovah” had spoken to him, telling him to act.
- The author reportedly quoted the Virginia Tech shooter called him “his boy,” and expressed admiration for the Columbine High School killers: “I was influenced by (the Virginia Tech shooter). That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that (the Columbine shooters) got…just sayin.’”
Scene(s) of Shooting:
- The initial shooting took place in Moneta, VA, at Bridgewater Plaza, a shopping center and marina. Neither the Bridgewater Plaza website nor the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce website indicate that carrying firearms is restricted in Bridgewater Plaza.
- Moneta is an unincorporated community in Bedford County, Virginia, 26 miles south of Roanoke.
- Roanoke, VA (pop. 97,032), was the home of all three victims, the shooter, and WDBJ-TV, and is the eighth-largest city in Virginia. The city is represented by two members of the Virginia House of Delegates, Sam Rasoul (D-11th) and
- Chris Head (R-17th), and one member of the Virginia Senate, John Edwards (D-21st). Roanoke is represented in the United States Congress by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th).
- Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia (D): “It is — it go back — goes back to what I’ve talked about for a long time, there are too many guns in the hands of people who should not have guns. This is why I’ve long advocated for background checks. I’m a gun owner, I’m a hunter. But you know what? I went through background checks myself to get it. We’ve got to — in America, we have got to come together. There is too much gun violence in the United States of America.”
Recent Mass Workplace Shootings:
- Brockport, NY, 2/14/09 The shooter killed a nurse in the Lakeside Memorial Hospital parking lot and a motorist who intervened, and wounded the motorist’s girlfriend. The shooter had been fired from the hospital after the nurse filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. He then drove 50 miles and killed another nurse — who had filed a similar complaint against the shooter — and her husband in their home.
- Geneva County, AL, 3/10/09 The shooter killed ten, including four members of his family at their homes then he went to his former employer’s office and after a shootout with police, he fatally shot himself.
- Mount Airy, NC, 11/1/09 The shooter killed four people outside a television store before eventually surrendering to the police.
- Fort Hood, TX, 11/5/09 The shooter killed thirteen and wounded thirty soldiers during an attack at the Fort Hood army base.
- Manchester, CT, 8/3/10 The shooter killed eight coworkers at a beer distributor and wounded two others before killing himself.
- Minneapolis, MN, 9/27/12 The shooter killed six people and injured two at a signage business, from which he was fired earlier in the day, before killing himself.