TV Crew Shot Dead While On Air
Victims Alison Parker (centre) and Adam Ward (right)
NEW DELHI: A TV reporter and a cameraman were shot dead during a live morning broadcast, by a gunman who has been identified as a disgruntled former employee of the TV station. The gunman, Vester Flanagan, shot himself during a police chase; he died later at a hospital.
The victims were 24 year old Alison Parker and 27 year old Adam Ward, both employed with TV station WDBJ7. A guest on the station’s Mornin’ show, whom Parker was interviewing, was wounded but is now stable after surgery.
The shooting was caught live on air, with the gunman opened fire at about 6:45 a.m. EDT (1045 GMT). Hours after the shooting, someone using Flanagan’s on air name, Bryce Williams, posted a video of the shooting to Twitter and Facebook. The videos were removed shortly afterward but had been filmed from the gunman’s vantage point.
Shortly after the attack, ABC news received a rumbling fax from a man said to be Flanagan. In it he describes suffering discrimination and bullying for being gay and black.
Flanagan had sued another station where he worked in Florida, alleging he had been discriminated against because he was black. Flanagan alleged that a producer with the station called him a “monkey.” The case was settled and dismissed.
The White House said Wednesday's attack showed the need for better gun control. US President Barack Obama called for tougher gun laws. "We're willing to spend trillions of dollars to prevent terrorist activities, but we haven't been willing so far at least to impose some common sense gun safety measures," he said.
Obama has a valid point. A recent report by the New America Foundation has found that the total number of people killed in “deadly right wing attacks” -- an umbrella term used to refer largely to acts of non politically motivated gun violence -- since the September 11 attacks in 2001 are 48. Compared to this, 26 people have been killed in what have been labelled as “deadly jihadist attacks.”
It is worth noting that the term “jihadist” has been used problematically, referring, for instance, to the Fort Hood shooting and the Boston Bombings, where although the perpetrators were Muslim, no terrorist links were identified. The 2009 Fort Hood shooting, to continue with the example, involved Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist who fatally shot dead 13 people. Although the report classifies this as a “jihadist” attack, the United States Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies have classified the shootings as an act of workplace violence. The Tsarnaev brothers, on the other hand, have been labelled “homegrown” terrorists, but no evidence of their links or connections to terrorist groups have been found.
Further, the report excludes certain events of violence from its definition of “terrorism.” Most mass shootings, for instance, like Sandy Hook or the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting — both in 2012 — weren't included. Also not included was the killing of three Muslim students in North Carolina earlier this year.
However, even with this problematic, broad and vague use of the word “jihadi” and its far too narrow use of the word “terrorism” -- attacks relating to gunviolence are still on top when it comes to terrorism on US soil. Recently, the Charleston Church Shooting claimed nine lives when 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire inside one of the United States' oldest black churches.
The report indicates that out of 26 attacks since 9/11 that the group defined as terror, 19 were carried out by non-Muslims. When the perpetrator is white, the media narrative seems to shift toward mitigating motives, whereas in the case of a Muslim attacker, the incident is almost always labelled an act of terrorism.
The real threat to the United States of America is rampant gun violence, and yet, little to no action is taken to prevent against it.