This has been a very tough week for journalism. Yesterday, a former journalist by the name of Vester Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, found a news team doing a live shot at Bridgewater Plaza, which is on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. I have seen the gruesome video, and I will not post the video here on Geek Alabama, but the video was hard to watch. You see everything going normally on a live shot, then a boom. The shock from the reporter who was shot was hard. Soon, Vester shot and killed reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward. He also wounded Vicki Gardner from the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Let me say this, that video from the TV station, and the video Vester shot himself, are both despicable! I have watched both videos, and as of this writing, those videos can still be found on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Vester Flanagan was very smart about the use of social media, and he uploaded his video to Facebook and Twitter where videos autoplay. For starters, I hope Facebook and Twitter will make it easier to allow people to turn off autoplay videos, not only on mobile but on desktops as well. I will NEVER share those videos of the shootings, and no one else should as well! We need to focus on the short lives of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the recovery of Vicki Gardner, and the staff at WDBJ-TV.
After the shootings, and the car chase where Vester Flanagan was shot dead, thank goodness. We have learned about Vester’s time at WDBJ, and it was not a good one. Vester had mental issues and aggression problems. The station did force Vester to get mental help, but that was not enough. He was fired from the station, and laid low for the next few years, and decided to take gruesome action against employees at the station. Vester was one very sick man! Before the shooting, he faxed a manifesto to ABC News in New York. He parked his regular car at an airport and got a rental car with extra disguises. He gloated the fact that he shot people to death on his own social media pages. And he even texted a friend that he did something stupid.
Yeah he did something stupid alright! He killed innocent people, he hurt the people that loved the people who were murdered, he hurt an entire TV station, he hurt the entire Roanoke community, and he hurt every person who is in the journalism/media field. No matter what type of field you do in the media world, from writing, photography, videography, voiceover, directing, or anything else, Vester took a gun, shot it, and sent a deep and dark message to those working in media, that anyone in media is a piece of c***. All of us in the media world needs to show Vester, who I hope is being burned and tortured in Hell right now, that everyone in the media world are great people!
This is why the hashtag #WEStandWithWDBJ is being used by journalists and everyone else. And even you bloggers out there needs to post something and use this hashtag, because bloggers contribute to the media world, and can be considered journalists. Here is my contribution!
Vester thought shooting people was like some kind of bad video game, and he thought he could get away, and continue to gloat that he killed people on his social media pages. Thank goodness Facebook and Twitter took down his pages quickly after he posted his shooting video. And I now want to quit talking about the shooter, and talk about what needs to be done now. There are two things, one the United States needs to have a long conversation about mental health. Instead of helping those who have mental issues, this country has been instead shutting down services or making it harder for those who needs the help to get it.
Until we address the mental health problems, and rebuild the mental health infrastructure, we will sadly continue to see these mass shootings like this. There is NO excuse to see mental health services being cut down to almost nothingness, even if it means some taxes has to go up, something must be done to make sure people who have mental health problems gets the help they need. Today, jail is becoming the place people with mental health problems end up. And most jails are not equipped to help those with mental heath problems. This needs to stop, or maybe your loved one will be the next one killed because someone with a mental health issue could not get the help they needed.
And second, after the mental health infrastructure is rebuilt, there needs to be strong databases to make sure those with mental health issues do not get a gun. If the mental health issues from the shooter was documented, and the database was stronger to prevent those with mental health issues to get a gun, those people killed might be alive right now. Not only those with mental heath issues should be prevented from getting a gun; gun loopholes, like no background checks at gun shows, should be closed! There is no excuse to not check those at gun shows to make sure they are allowed to purchase a gun, none at all!
I am not saying that gun rights should be tightened or taken away. If you don’t have any problems like mental health issues or don’t have a criminal history, you should have every right to purchase a gun. But, people who are not thinking right should not be allowed to purchase a gun! And I would add this in, I would make it easier for a loved one or employer to force someone with mental health issues to be admitted into a hospital or mental health center to get help. No, you are not forcing someone to give up their freedom, you are doing what is best to make sure a person with severe mental health problems stays off the street, gets some help, and has no chance of harming someone else.
At the end of this post, let’s focus on the lives of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. First, Vicki Gardner has been upgraded to good condition, and I hope she makes a full recovery. As for the people who were murdered, WDBJ has a great story about the lives of Alison and Adam. And I hope you consider donating to scholarship funds set up for both Alison and Adam. I am praying to the families and friends of Alison and Adam, the staff at WDBJ, and the Roanoke community. This is a terrible time to be a journalist / media person, but we will get through this together! I will leave this post with a video from WDBJ when they held a moment of silence this morning. God bless!