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WDBJ’s Slain TV News Photographer Adam Ward Mourned at Emotional Memorial

Over 1,000 people gather at a Virginia high school to remember victim of Aug. 26 shooting

Family, friends and sympathetic strangers all gathered to celebrate the life and mourn the death of WDBJ photographer Adam Ward on Monday.

Over 1,000 people attended a memorial at Salem High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to honor the 27-year-old TV cameraman who was gunned down along with reporter Alison Parker, 24, by former colleague Vester Flanagan.

Ward’s father, Charles “Buddy” Ward, exchanged hugs with almost all of the guests as they walked past his son’s open casket, reported USA Today.

The photographer graduated the high school in 2007 and was remembered by members of Salem High’s football team, who wore team jerseys and were among the first to arrive. Ward had played football for the Spartans on two state championship teams.

Also in attendance were several WDBJ employees including general manager and president Jeffrey Marks and news director Kelly Zuber.

Principal Scott Habeeb said Ward “loved life and he was truly kind to people.”

“This is not just the loss of a student,” Habeeb explained. “This is a loss of a family member because he’s a Spartan. He’s part of us. His father’s part of us.

“It’s heartbreaking. At the same time, we look back and we think about Adam, it was not a life wasted. It was a life well lived.”

Photos of the shooting victim dotted the walls. His casket was decorated with memorabilia from Virginia Tech, where he graduated in 2011 with a degree in communications. Ward’s body was dressed in a Virginia Tech cap and white shirt, and a large bouquet of Hokie orange and dark red flowers was draped over the casket’s lower end.

Virginia Tech football players will wear stickers honoring both Ward and Parker in their season opening game against Ohio State on Labor Day.

The university campus in Blacksburg was the scene of another shooting tragedy in April 2007 when Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks

Ward’s funeral is set for Tuesday, Sept. 1 at First Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Parker’s funeral is going to be private and her family has not released details to the public.

Flanagan, the suspect in the shooting and a former colleague of the two journalists, died later Wednesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after leading police on a car chase.

Flanagan had a history of anger issues. He was fired from the station in February 2013 and was reportedly escorted out of the newsroom by security.