ROANOKE, VA (WWBT) - On Thursday, WDBJ staff stood together outside the Roanoke station. Instead of telling the news, they were the news. It was a little more than 24 hours after reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward were ambushed and shot to death during a live shot. Executive director of Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Vicki Gardner was injured.
That morning, the WDBJ morning anchors clasped hands in a moment of silence on air to honor Parker and Ward.
The loss, now more real, more palpable and still no easier to understand. A memorial outside the news station continues to grow with flowers, balloons and notes.
In the afternoon, the WDBJ staff stood outside to address the media. "We march together, with one foot in front of the other, mourning our loss and never forgetting Alison and Adam," says WDBJ general manager Jeff Marks.
Police say former WDBJ employee Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, is the shooter. And through all of this, news director Kelly Zuber says the news team knows there is a job to do.
"I have watched anchors and reporters half an hour before a newscast crying in the newsroom," she said. "And they get on that set and deliver the news to people of southwest and central Virginia. "
The staff says there are little reminders that Alison and Adam are now gone.
"Our meteorologist this morning found a candy wrapper while on the air that Adam Ward had always eaten and left somewhere, and it's those kinds of little things that are just getting to us now," says Zuber. That meteorologist, Leo Hirsbrunne, visited the memorial and read the notes outside the news station.
Some come here just to pray.
"I was asking God to bless over the families, and this whole community," says Matthew Collins, a viewer who drove from West Virginia.
A whole community is now mourning the loss of two very young people who were just starting their lives. Adam was about to get married. His fiancee, a morning producer, was in the control room when they were killed.
"It's a really difficult time for her, and she has family around her right now and she is doing her best to cope," says Zuber.
Zuber also said WDBJ news crews are not going live out in the field yet. That will be something they take day by day. She says law enforcement has already offered to help when the crews are ready.
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