WPSD employees remember WDBJ reporter who was shot and killed

A shooting of a reporter and photographer happened hundreds of miles away from Paducah Wednesday, in Virginia, but it hits too close to home.

WPSD was connected in its own way to the shooting. The world may be a big place, but the news business is quite small. Before working in Virginia, Alison Parker was a reporter in Jacksonville, North Carolina, from 2012 to 2014. That’s where three of our own employees say they first met Alison. They say they will remember her for far more than her last story.

An early morning call is part of the usual news routine, but turned to terror hearing the updates from a shocking, early morning live shot. Juliana Valencia was friend and coworker of Parker and says she and other colleagues spoke to each other, checking in.

Tori Shaw had also worked with Alison. "My initial shock was ‘Oh my gosh! I knew her!’ I worked with her then," Shaw said.

Shaw, Valencia, and Holden Kurwicki can all see themselves in the moments now frozen in time and in their minds, but choose to remember Alison’s lasting impression rather than the fear that filled her final story.

"I watched that video," Shaw said. "I shouldn’t have. I wish I didn’t, because the last thing I will remember of her is the sheer terror she had. She would walk in, blonde hair, goofy, (and) crack a joke, and your day would instantly be better."

"’Oh, there’s Alison. And she’s always excited to be here, and it’s a Monday," Valencia recalled of her friend. "But Alison loved news and she loved her job."

Kurwicki recalled when he would joke with Alison, saying "I teased her about the rain boots, because it was 90 degrees and who wears rain boots?"

Alison loved and devoted her life to news, and she was loved by those who knew her and will be remembered just as fiercely.

"We may not see here on the air, but her memory and how she made everyone feel that will stay with everyone," Shaw said.

Alison Parker’s family released this statement:

"Today we received news that no family should ever hear. Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful, and immensely talented Alison was taken from the world. This is senseless, and our family is crushed." 

Photographer Adam Ward was also killed in the shooting. Ward had recently proposed to his girlfriend, WDBJ news producer Melissa Ott. She was working this morning —it was her last day before she was to take a job in another city. Ward had plans to follow her and told coworkers he was thinking of getting out of news.

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