Roanoke. The morning after…

Kevin Goins
Kevin Goins

As a former radio news producer – hell, a human being – I couldn’t imagine the difficult job the folks at WDJB-TV in Roanoke, VA had today with doing their work. As many of us know, yesterday morning (August 26th) at 6:45 a.m. ET, news reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed by Vester Flanagan II (a former co-worker/reporter, who used the on-air name of Bryce Williams) during a live broadcast. Flanagan later killed himself during a law-enforcement manhunt.
The station held a moment of silence this morning at 6:45, in honor of their slain colleagues. Alison was engaged to be married to news anchor, Chris Furst. Adam’s fiancée, producer Melissa Ott, was due to celebrate her last day with the station yesterday. Instead, both Chris and Melissa – and now, several thousand folks – viewed a nightmare in real life, real time.
CORRECTS YEAR FLANAGAN WAS FIRED TO 2013 FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR - This undated photograph made available by WDBJ-TV shows reporter Alison Parker, left, and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker and Ward were fatally shot during an on-air interview, Wednesday, 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 in 2013. (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV via AP)
This undated photograph made available by WDBJ-TV shows reporter Alison Parker, left, and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker and Ward were fatally shot during an on-air interview, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va. (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV via AP)

My condolences and sympathies are squarely with the families and loving partners of both Alison and Adam. Neither one deserved such a horrible fate. Two young folks who were dedicated to their work, admired and respected by their colleagues as well as station management. Their families now have to deal with having to lay to rest two young lives, a nightmare for any parent.
As for Vester/Bryce, I have absolutely no sympathy nor compassion whatsoever. Yes, this is harsh, and I make no apologies. Yes, I read the reports, news items, etc. regarding him. The only thing I did not do was view this man’s video – nor will I have any interest in doing so.
I get it, folks – the man said he encountered discrimination from all races, because of being Black and Gay, for most if not all of his life. The highlights, facing it at a news station in Florida, fifteen years ago (so he said). Filed a case against them that was dismissed (no proof). Then, claims that Alison said racist things and Adam filed a complaint after working with Vester/Bryce once. He filed an EEOC claim against the station, which was thrown out of court due to lack of evidence.
Vester Flanagan/Bryce Williams (AP Photo/File)

The other side of the story, management at both stations said Vester/Bryce was difficult to work with, had anger issues and even provoked trouble (he cursed out his cameraman and berated him in front of an interviewee). Dismissing him wasn’t easy for either broadcasting outlet. WDJB-TV called authorities to have him escorted off the premises, the result of him threatening to “make a big stink” – his words – over his severance. And this was after the station had requested that he contact the company’s employee-assistance program for help.
Why do I feel nothing for the man? Same reason why I feel nothing for Dylan Root, who shot and killed nine Black church members (including a state politician) in South Carolina. Same reason why I feel nothing for John Russell Houser, who shot theater goers in Louisiana – killing two victims as well as taking his own life. The same reason why my blood runs ice cold even thinking about the sick individuals who took lives at Sandy Hook and during the Boston Marathon, more than a couple of years ago.
The reason – because this guy killed two innocent folks in cold blood. Period.
No doubt, I’m all for gun restrictions that take into account one’s mental/psychological state of mind/being. Absolutely. But we just can’t stop there. Intervention needs to occur long before one’s state of mind would prompt them to make an attempt at acquiring a weapon. Mandated counseling and therapy at the work place or requested by family – hell, something. This is not going to be easy to deal with and it would take time to implement. But, that needs to happen NOW, before the next tragedy strikes.
KEVIN GOINS is a music journalist and researcher based in New York City.  A radio broadcasting veteran (he served as a news producer for WHAM-AM/Rochester NY), Kevin is the host/producer of the Soulful Conversations and New Grooves Radio podcast series ( He can be reached at

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