Virginia Shooting

By Kate Muska
September 10, 2015

Vester Lee Flanagan II—also known as his TV alias Bryce Williams—has been described by the media as a “disgruntled employee.” Disgruntled is defined as angry or dissatisfied. Are these words enough to describe the sick man who shot and killed two of his former co-workers?

On Wednesday, August 26, the world felt the sting of emotional pain when news broke that Williams had intruded on a live WDBJ-TV interview and shot cameraman Adam Ward, reporter Alison Parker, interviewee Vicki Gardner and then himself in Moneta, Virginia. Parker and Moneta—and eventually Williams—died, while Gardner is on her way to recovery.

Although this tragedy is obviously affecting the lives of families, friends and the team at WDBJ, journalists around the world are also deeply impacted by the events that took place on August 26. For years, journalists have been known to seek out truth and report it, no matter the cost, and they have been paying for it. Whether it happens overseas in Iraq or right here in our own country, journalists are taking risks every day.

When news broke on the subject, the Twitter world blew up. Tweets about the incident varied from “R.I.P.” to gun control to racial concerns. As a journalist, I am appalled. As soon as tragedy strikes, people use it as an excuse to voice their own personal problems. People blame the gun instead of the shooter. They blame the color of his skin instead of the mental problems he had.

Gun control is not going to stop a criminal. What makes people think that if there are more laws on guns, criminals will listen? The fact that they are criminals is proof enough that laws mean absolutely nothing to them. A new law: so what? A criminal will do what he wants anyway.

The fact that people are turning this into a race issue is just a sign of the ignorance in this world. There were actually tweets from people applauding this man—this killer—for “teaching white people a lesson” and black power. The fact of the matter is that this was not about race. It was about an angry, upset and mentally ill man who did not get the help that he needed. Forget about gun control. What we need is more research, funding and attention on mental illnesses, including suicidal individuals.

August 26 was a tragic day for many people, but the real tragedy was how the world responded to it. It is unfair to the families and friends of Parker and Ward. It just goes to show how much help this world needs, and how irresponsible people are with the words that they chose to use.

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Kate Muska

A sophomore communications major with a minor in English, Katie is very dedicated to her writing. Katie is an assistant editor to the Lifestyles section of the Loquitur and is looking to go into the field of publishing.

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