- The Washington Times - Friday, August 28, 2015

Vicki Gardner, the sole survivor of a tragic on-air shooting that left reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward dead on Wednesday, gave the first eyewitness account of the incident Friday morning. 

After waking up from a medically induced coma following surgery for a bullet wound to her back, Mrs. Gardner, the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce who was being interviewed by Parker when Vester Lee Flanagan opened fire, said she was able to walk to the ambulance herself even though she had a bullet in her back.

Mrs. Gardner relayed her account of the shooting to her husband who sat down for an interview with ABC news Friday morning. He said his wife told him she did not see the shooter approaching because of the lights of the camera shining in her face, ABC reported.

The alleged gunman, Flanagan, who once worked at the same news station as the two victims, first targeted Parker then turned his attention to Ward, according to Mr. Gardner said.

“Then he shot three times at my wife, and she was trying to dodge everything,” Mr. Gardner said, recalling his wife’s account. “He missed twice, and then she dove to the ground and curled up in a ball, and that’s when he shot her in the back.”

According to Mrs. Gardner, the shooter was wearing a bulletproof vest. 

After shooting the three victims, Flanagan left the area. 

Mrs. Gardner then stood up and walked to the ambulance.

Doctors told Mr. Gardner that his wife escaped death by just a few centimeters. 

“I don’t think she ever felt like she was in danger after she got up and walked to the ambulance after being shot, but she didn’t know the extent of her injuries at that point, but the surgeon told me that a couple of centimeters and she wouldn’t be walking and a couple of centimeters more and she wouldn’t be alive,” he said, ABC reported.

Mrs. Gardner had a kidney and part of her colon removed but is expected to make a full recovery.

Now, Mr. Gardner says his wife is beginning to understand the scope of the shooting.

“She’s slowly becoming aware of how much attention it’s getting,” he said. “She’s just … well, she’s just a little torn up about things at the moment.”

Police chased Flanagan after he fled the scene as he drove down Interstate 66. Flanagan shot himself when a trooper approached his vehicle and later died in the hospital.

Police on Thursday searched the car Flanagan was driving and found a wig, shawl and three license plates as well as a Glock pistol, six ammunition magazines and ammunition for a 9mm weapon.  

Flanagan was a former reporter for WDBJ-TV, where both Parker and Ward worked. He went by the name Bryce Williams while working there and received several complaints for his behavior at work. 

In a 23-page suicide letter, Flanagan wrote that he had built up anger over racism and harassment he had experienced for being a gay black man and that the killings of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June had prompted him to kill Parker and Ward. 

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