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Murdered Virginia Journalists 'Much More Than What You Saw on TV'

WDBJ-TV website screenshot shows photos of murdered journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward, Aug. 26, 2015.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were an ambitious reporter-and-cameraman team at a Virginia television station, often filming light and breezy feature stories for its morning news show.

On Wednesday at about 6:45 a.m. ET (1045 GMT), it was business as usual for the two journalists with Roanoke, Virginia-based CBS affiliate WDBJ7. They were conducting a live interview about a local lake until gunfire rang out.

Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were shot and killed on-air, their final screams broadcast live from Bridgewater Plaza, a recreation site with restaurants and shopping. The shooting suspect was a former employee of the station, authorities said. He was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia.

Screenshot of WDBJ-TV video live shot from Moneta, Virginia, moments before the shooting occured, Aug. 26, 2015..
Screenshot of WDBJ-TV video live shot from Moneta, Virginia, moments before the shooting occured, Aug. 26, 2015..

"I cannot tell you how much they were loved," WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said about Parker and Ward during a somber broadcast. Station employees could be heard crying in the background.

"These two were more than what you saw here on TV. They were much, much more," anchor Kimberly McBroom said.

Parker and Ward were Virginia natives. Parker graduated from Martinsville High School and attended James Madison University, where she excelled academically. She started at WDBJ as an intern about four years ago, left for a while, then returned.

Co-workers knew her as bubbly and smart, someone excelling quickly at her job. She worked her way up to full-time reporter and substitute anchor by her early 20s. When fellow employees suffered personal hardships, she would console them, bringing food or flowers, they said.

Ward went to Salem High School and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was a devoted fan of Virginia Tech sports teams and always had a smile on his face, coworkers said.

Both were engaged to marry other journalists working at the news station.

'I am numb'

Parker was engaged to WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.

"She was the most radiant woman I ever met," Hurst wrote on Twitter after the death of his fiance, with whom he lived and had dated for nine months. "I am numb."

Hurst said Parker and Ward worked together ever day and "were a team."

Ward was engaged to morning WDBJ producer, Melissa Ott, who was leaving the station for a job in Charlotte, North Carolina, Marks said. Ward was moving with her.

There was cake and balloons in the newsroom on Wednesday morning celebrating the move and the couple's engagement, said anchor Kimberly McBroom.

Ward recently told co-workers he intended to leave the news business with his move to Charlotte.

Ward's personal Facebook page is decorated with images of him and Ott, including his marriage proposal to her. Parker's page is filled with images of pets, outdoor activities and other outings where she poses with her new fiance.

"There were a lot of good things happening for Adam," McBroom said, choking back tears. "And Alison, wow, she was just a rock star."