EXCLUSIVE: Slain Local CBS Reporter Alison Parker's Family Speaks Out After Live TV Shooting
By Antoinette Bueno
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The families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the two Virginia journalists who were shot and killed Wednesday morning during a live TV interview, shared more details and memories about the victims.
Parker, a 24-year-old WDBJ7 reporter, and Ward, a 27-year-old cameraman, were interviewing Vicki Gardner -- Executive Director at Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Bridgewater Plaza -- outside Moneta, Virginia, when they were shot by suspected gunman Vester Lee Flanagan II at around 6:45 a.m. Flanagan, who Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said was a disgruntled station employee, later died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"Today we received news that no family should ever hear," Parker's family said in an exclusive statement to ET on Wednesday. "Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful, and immensely talented Alison was taken from the world. This is senseless and our family is crushed."
Both Parker and Ward were dating other staff members. Parker was in a relationship with the station's evening anchor, Chris Hurst, while Ward was engaged to producer Melissa Ott.
Hurst tweeted about his late girlfriend on Wednesday, calling their time together "the best nine months of [their] lives."
"We didn't share this publicly, but @AParkerWDBJ7 and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb," Hurst tweeted alongside a photo of the two. "We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday."
Just last weekend, the couple was on a family trip to Nantahala River in North Carolina, as seen in this photo provided to ET by Parker's family.
Parker graduated from James Madison University in 2012. During her time there, she was a reporter and editor for the student newspaper, The Breeze. "She had a passion for journalism and had a bright future. James Madison University is saddened by the news and circumstances of her death. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues," her alma mater said in a statement on Wednesday.
"She was the most radiant woman I ever met," Hurst added. "And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother. I am comforted by everyone at @WDBJ7. We are a family. She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee."
Ward's fiancee -- who was actually celebrating her last day at the station -- was in the control room when the shooting happened, and witnessed it happen live, according to CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter. The couple was planning to move to Charlotte where Ott had a new job, and the station had even thrown her a party earlier.
Ward's close friend, Solina Lewis, a repoter at WFXR, described the smiling cameraman -- a Virginia Tech graduate -- as "sweet" and "goofy."
"I didn't know Alison Parker, but I did know Adam Ward. He was my friend's fiancé, but quickly became my friend and someone I felt like I'd known forever," Lewis wrote on Facebook. "He was sweet, he was goofy, he put together my furniture because I couldn't figure it out, he gave some awesome freakin bear hugs, and most importantly, he loved his fiancee Melissa more than anything on the planet."