Mourners remember slain Virginia TV cameraman
Frame grab of television reporter Alison Parker, left, conducting an interview before she and videographer Adam Ward were shot and killed on Aug. 26, 2015.(WDBJ7)
Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were fatally shot during an on-air interview Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va. Authorities identified the suspect as fellow journalist Vester Lee Flanagan II, who appeared on WDBJ-TV as Bryce Williams. Flanagan was fired from the station earlier this year.(WDBJ-TV)
Members of the Salem High school football team arrive to remember alumnus WDBJ-TV7 cameraman Adam Ward, as mourners hug at Salem High School in Salem, Va., on Aug. 31, 2015.(Steve Helber / AP)
WDBJ meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, gets emotional during the early morning newscast as anchors deliver the news Aug. 27, 2015, the day after a reporter and cameraman were killed during a live broadcast.(Steve Helber / AP)
WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst, right, hugs meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner during the early morning newscast at WDBJ-TV7 in Roanake, Va., on Aug. 27, 2015. Hurst was the fiance of Alison Parker, who was killed during a live broadcast Wednesday.(Steve Helber / AP)
Members of the WDBJ news staff prepare for the early morning newscast at the station Aug. 27, 2015, the day after a reporter and cameraman were killed during a live broadcast in Virginia.(Steve Helber / AP)
Balloons at the desk of WDBJ’s Melissa Ott, a morning producer who was engaged to cameraman Adam Ward. Ott was in the control room Aug. 26, 2015, marking her last day on the job when shots were fired, by a disgruntled former employee according to police, killing her fiance.(Allen G. Breed / AP)
WDBJ weatherman Leo Hirshbrunner, left, was among visitors to the makeshift memorial at the gates of WDBJ’s studios Aug. 27, 2015, in Roanoke, Va., the day after reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were shot and killed while conducting a live on-air interview for WDBJ.(Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images)
A makeshift memorial at WDBJ’s television studios on Aug. 27, 2015, in Roanoke, Va., the day after reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were shot and killed while conducting a live on-air interview for WDBJ.(Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images)
Danielle Staub, a WDBJ journalist, reports from outside the station’s studios recalling her two co-workers who were fatally shot Aug. 26, 2015. “I’m not doing it because it’s my job, honestly, I’m doing it for them,” Staub said after going off the air.(Griffin Moores / Staunton, Va., Daily News Leader )
Stephanie Gray was among attendees at a vigil for journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward who were shot to death at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Va., on Aug. 26, 2015. Vester Lee Flanagan II opened fire during a live on-air interview for WDBJ, killing the journalists, police said.(Autumn Parry / Lynchburg, Va., News & Advance)
Community supporters sing during a vigil for journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward who were killed during a shooting in Moneta, Va., on Aug. 26, 2015. Vester Lee Flanagan II opened fire during a live on-air interview for WDBJ, killing the journalists earlier in the day, police said.(Autumn Parry / Lynchburg, Va., News & Advance )
People light a heart-shaped ring of candles Aug. 26, 2015, during a prayer vigil organized by Vitalize Church in Hardy, Va., for the WDBJ journalists who were fatally shot earlier Wednesday.(Griffin Moores / Staunton, Va., Daily News Leader )
Pamela Cook, of Roanoke, Va., delivers flowers to WDBJ studios after hearing news of a shooting involving two of the news team members near Roanoke on Aug. 26, 2015. A WDBJ-TV reporter and cameraman were shot to death during a live television interview Wednesday by a gunman who recorded himself carrying out the killings and posted the video on social media after fleeing the scene.(Heather Rousseau / Roanoke Times)
Flowers, balloons and cards are left in front of the WDBJ television station in Roanoke, Va., on Aug. 26, 2015.(Don Petersen / Roanoke Times)
The Twitter profile photo of Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known as Bryce Williams, who allegedly shot and killed WBDJ reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward on Aug. 26, 2015. Flanagan died around 1:30 p.m. of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.(Twitter)
A view of Bryce Williams’ Twitter profile page with postings just prior to the shooting deaths of WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward. Williams’ real name is Vester Lee Flanagan II.(Twitter)
An image from video shows Virginia State Police and emergency vehicles in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 66 in Fauquier County, Va., on Aug. 26, 2015, during the effort to capture Vester Lee Flanagan II, the suspect in the slayings of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27.(Katharyn Gillam / AFPGetty Images)
A sheriff’s deputy blocks a ramp from Interstate 66 near Markham, Va., on Aug. 26, 2015, where police confronted suspected killer Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known as Bryce Williams. Flanagan, suspected of killing WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, was taken into custody after shooting himself. He later died of his injuries.(Robert MacPherson / AFPGetty Images)
A Roanoke police officer repositions cones after letting a vehicle through at WDBJ’s Digital Broadcast Center on Aug. 26, 2015, in Roanoke, Va. Two of the station’s journalists were fatally shot while doing an on-air broadcast earlier in the day at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Va.(Erica Yoon / Roanoke Times)
Reporters and photographers at a news conference held by Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton on Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va., in which authorities talked about the fatal shooting of two WDBJ-TV employees during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza.(Jay Paul / Getty Images)
Police stand watch at the crime scene at Bridgewater Plaza on Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va. Reporter Alison Parker and camerman Adam Ward of WDBJ-TV were killed earlier in the day during a live broadcast.(Jay Paul / Getty Images)
Police work the crime scene at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va. Two employees of WDBJ, reporter Alison Parker and camerman Adam Ward, were killed during a live broadcast. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan II, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.(Jay Paul / Getty Images)
Flowers from viewer Rodney Booth, of Roanoke, Va., outside WDBJ’s Digital Broadcast Center, in Roanoke, Va., on Aug. 26, 2015. Two of the station’s journalists were fatally shot while doing an on-air broadcast earlier in the day at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta.(Erica Yoon / Roanoke Times)
A frame from video from Adam Ward, WDBJ-TV cameraman, that appears to show the man who shot and killed Ward and reporter Alison Parker during an interview on Aug. 26, 2015.(WDBJ-TV)
In an image from a video posted to his Facebook page, Vester Lee Flanagan II, aka Bryce Williams, films WBDJ7 reporter Alison Parker as she interviews Vicki Gardner at Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County, Va. Seconds later he fatally shot Parker and WBDJ7 videographer Adam Ward.(Facebook)
In an image from a video posted to his Facebook page, Vester Lee Flanagan II, aka Bryce Williams, points a gun toward WBDJ7 reporter Alison Parker as she interviews Vicki Gardner at Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County, Va. After lowering his gun, seconds later he raised it again and fatally shot Parker and WBDJ7 videographer Adam Ward.(Facebook)
Salem High School opened its doors to the community Monday to commemorate the life of an alumnus — Adam Ward, the 27-year-old cameraman for a Roanoke television station who was slain on live TV last week.
The family of Ward, a 2007 graduate of the school, asked visitors to wear colors of his favorite teams, Virginia Tech and Salem High, where he played football for the Spartans on two state championship teams. His funeral is set for Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Roanoke.
Members of Salem High’s football team, wearing the team jerseys, were among the first people to enter the school.
Salem High School Principal Scott Habeeb said Ward “loved life and he was truly kind to people.” Habeeb was the offensive line coach when Ward played middle school football, was one of his teachers as a high school freshman and was an assistant principal for Ward’s final three years of high school.
Ward’s father, Charles, is a guidance counselor at the school, which Adam chose to attend even though he lived in another district.
The Ward family had stayed out of the spotlight since Wednesday when he and reporter Alison Parker were gunned down by a former co-worker. Ward and Parker were on an early morning assignment for WDBJ-TV at Smith Mountain Lake when Vester Lee Flanagan walked up and shot them and Vicki Gardner, a Chamber of Commerce official, with a 9mm Glock pistol during a live interview. Ward and Parker died at the scene and Gardner is recovering in a hospital.
They were shot down as thousands of viewers across the central Virginia community watched and the footage quickly spread to millions on social media. Flanagan shot himself as police pursued his car. He died hours later.
Tributes to Parker and Ward quickly poured in on social media. Parker was considered a rising star at the station and had recently moved in with her boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.
Ward was engaged to morning show producer Melissa Ott, who had recently gotten a job in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was celebrating her last day working in Roanoke when the shooting happened. Ward and Ott, of Gibbstown, New Jersey, were planning to get married in July 2016.
“Adam, I will never find a man so happy, selfless, protective, funny, or charming like you. You were the one. You understood me. My soulmate. I will always love you. Please watch over me and keep me strong. Enjoy the endless tech games in your heaven. I love you so much,” Ott wrote in a Facebook post.
Pictures of the couple frequently show them at football games, which Ward loved to attend when he wasn’t playing tennis. Even when cheering for Ott’s alma mater, Penn State, pictures show Ward continued to wear a Virginia Tech hat with a Penn State shirt. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2011 with a degree in communication.
“Adam was the one with the painted chest in 20 degree weather screaming the loudest from the end zone,” his obituary says.
In 2013, Ward took a picture of himself donating blood the week of a Virginia Tech football game against arch rival Virginia, noting the blood’s resemblance to one of the school’s official colors.
“Its fact. I bleed chicago maroon. #beatuva,” Ward said in a Tweet.
The only other school that rivaled his love for Virginia Tech was Salem High.
Friends have described Ward as especially close with his parents, and he and his father were scheduled to cover Salem High football games for WDBJ on Friday night before the shootings occurred.
“I don’t know if there has ever been another person who better embodied what it meant to be a Spartan than Adam Ward. To know him was truly to love him. His smile was the brightest; his heart was the biggest; his enthusiasm was the most contagious; his work was the hardest. Adam was without a doubt the easiest-to-like kid who ever walked the halls of SHS,” Habeeb wrote on Facebook.
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