Photos of two smiling young adults — one a TV news reporter and the other a cameraman — showed two people who appeared to be vibrantly alive.
The headline above their pictures told something different: “Virginia TV reporter, photographer killed in shooting during live interview.”
Local news reporter Alison Parker, interviewing a woman for a story near Moneta, Va., and cameraman Adam Ward, filming the interview, were gunned down on live TV at about 6:45 a.m. on Aug. 26.
The interview subject, Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back and was rushed into surgery soon after viewers witnessed the shooting live.
As this blog is being written, authorities are searching for what is believed to be a single gunman who fired maybe six or seven shots. Only after the arrest will law enforcement have a clue about the motive.
Parker was 24 and Ward, 27.
On the surface, this appeared to be a senseless killing.
But acts of violence like this seem all too common, and they are happening all over. Children and adults — young and old — are being ambushed in public as well as in isolated places for whatever reasons — or sometimes no reason. Sadly, the results are predictable: shocking deaths and life-threatening injuries.
Perhaps we’re especially shocked because these atrocities happen in places not unlike where most of us live. These are not battlefield deaths. They are not always perpetuated in hotbeds of religious or racial hatred and discord, though violence in such places is bad enough.
Death to a young reporter and an almost-as-young cameraman in the process of what appears to be a noncontroversial — perhaps innocuous — interview suggests this kind of thing could certainly happen to our own loved ones, friends and even ourselves during our most routine activities.
When the alleged perpetrator is taken into custody, authorities may find a person with a history of mental illness, a person who is simply angry, one who craves some attention and goes about it in a tragic way or one motivated by any one of a hundred reasons.
What happened in Virginia and was for at least a few seconds broadcast live before studio technicians could stop the broadcast was horrific. And regardless of the shooter’s motive, it was senseless and should never have happened.
For the most part, we have no idea what to do to prevent such violence. To be sure, we in the human family must continue to look out for each other. Any part of our world can be a dangerous place.
Bill Webb is editor of Word & Way.