The loss of two Roanoke journalists in a senseless shooting

Roanoke media is incredibly close-knit. For all the competition, reporters hold friendships across outlets. That friendliness is an outgrowth of long days spent waiting on politicians at events, taking turns asking questions of law enforcement officers in news conferences, and sharing space while covering the best and worst in human behavior.

I left the Roanoke Times before Alison Parker or Adam Ward came to work for WDBJ7, but I had worked with their counterparts in the broadcast field, some of whom were their coworkers at the time of last week’s shootings at Bridgewater Plaza.

I was called in by the Washington Post to help report the story, which put me in the odd position of working alongside old friends and colleagues, who were covering the deaths of two of their own, while I was representing an outside publication.

Both Parker and Ward had reported on the local roller derby leagues with whom I had such close ties. Parker reported on the Star City Roller Girls, donning skates, pads and a derby name, while Ward had shot footage of the NRV Roller Girls for a seperate story.

After what felt like a long day talking on the phone to those who remembered Parker and Ward; speaking to Sherman Lea Jr., who briefly was misidentified on social media as the shooter; and covering a news conference at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Westlake, my name appeared as a contributor to a few different Washington Post stories covering different aspects of the tragedy and its aftermath.

The stories:
Two Roanoke journalists killed on live television by angry former colleague
Vester Lee Flanagan was ‘a man with a lot of anger,’ station manager says
Man who shot Va. TV journalists had troubled tenure at station, records show