Sheriff speaks out following fatal shooting of WDBJ news crew, says it’s been ‘very emotional’

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Photo credit: WDBJ

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (August 26, 2015) – Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Overton spoke to the media during a news conference Wednesday, sharing more information about reporter Alison Parker, photographer Adam Ward, and their suspected shooter,  Vester Flanagan.

Overton told the media that he was watching Parker’s report on WDBJ this morning when the shooting occurred.  He said he, as well as many other viewers, were very confused as to what was going on.

He said when he found out Parker and Ward had been shot, he was ‘very emotional.’ Overton said he did an interview with them just a few weeks ago, and he considered them friends.

Overton also said both Parker and Ward grew up in the area. Parker graduated from James Madison University and Ward graduated from Virginia Tech.

Overton also released new information about the suspected shooter, Vester Flanagan. Flanagan was a former reporter at WDBJ, and his “on-air” name was Bryce Williams.

State police were able to track him down on Interstate 66 around 11:30 a.m. using a license plate reader, according to Sgt. Rick Garletts. When they started the chase, Flanagan sped off. He crashed shortly later.

When officers approached his vehicle, he was unconscious and suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Flanagan was airlifted to the hospital, and he died two hours later at 1:30 p.m.

Overton also went on to say that it is unclear if Flanagan knew where Parker and Ward would be located prior to this morning or if he found out when he saw them on television.

Overton says it will be a lengthy investigation because of the number of components to the incident.