WBDJ live-TV shooting survivor Vicki Gardner spoke out for the first time about the events that transpired on Aug. 26, when journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward in Virginia were shot and killed during an on-air segment.
Describing the events of that morning, Gardner said that during her interview on air, all she saw was “movement, and then gunfire — lots and lots of gunfire.”
“From that point, it was very chaotic,” she told Greta van Susteren in an “On The Record” interview on Tuesday. “I realized that Adam [Ward] was down in front of me and Alison [Parker] was not to the side of me any longer.”
And that’s when she realized that she might be the shooter’s next victim: “The only thing I could think of was, ‘Play dead.'”
She remembers that she fell to the ground as though she had been hit and went into the fetal position because she knew the shooter, later identified as Vester Flanagan, would shoot her in the head.
As the shooter moved around, he didn’t say a word, and Gardner recalled it all being very quiet as she concentrated “on being so still that he wouldn’t shoot me again.”
However, the gunman came back and shot her in the back, “just in case.”
After what seemed like an eternity to her, the police came in and brought her to safety while searching for Flanagan.
“It was just rapid fire, all in this direction,” Gardner said, pointing at her face. “How he missed me, I just don’t know.”
WDBJ-7 reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, were doing a standard live shot with Gardner at Bridgewater Plaza near Moneta, Virginia, at 6:45 a.m. ET when Flanagan opened fire on them.
Gardner, the executive director at Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce official, was shot in the back and underwent surgery. Both journalists were in relationships with colleagues at the station.
Vester Flanagan, the suspect in the shooting and a former colleague of the two journalists, died five hours later of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after leading police on a car chase, authorities said.
“If I had continued to stand, I would not be here talking to you,” Gardner said in the interview. “My heart just goes out to Alison and Adam and there were just so young — why take them and save me?”