This past Saturday was the two-year anniversary of the tragic event that took the lives of two young, vibrant individuals, news reporter Alison Parker and video journalist Adam Ward of WDBJ7.

The two were gunned down by a former WDBJ7 employee as they were conducting a live interview with Vicki Gardner at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta about upcoming events for the 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake.

For me, the world stood still on that day.

I had watched the live broadcast by coincidence.

Usually every morning, my mother and I watch WSET as we get ready for work commenting on the news and checking the weather.

This morning, it just so happened, WSET’s channel was off the air. I’m not sure what happened that morning, but I believe I was supposed to watch that WDBJ7 broadcast.

My mother and I heard what sounded like a gunshot and watched the confusion on anchor Kimberly McBroom’s face as the feed switched back to the newsroom.

We didn’t know what had happened, but we had a bad feeling about it.

When I arrived at work, I immediately knew, and I first called my mother and then my friend who at the time was working for a newspaper at Smith Mountain Lake.

I told him to go do his job and to get out of there as quickly as possible, and to please, be careful.

I was so scared for him.

As the day went on, I watched broadcast after broadcast trying to update as quickly as possible and make sense of the situation.

With each update that I watched, I became more and more upset and more than anything, I was angry.

I even reached out to a friend because I couldn’t understand why I was so upset over the deaths of strangers, people I had never met a day in my life.

I was angry that a man had shot these two young individuals who were simply out trying to do their job.

When I looked at these individuals, even though I didn’t know them, I saw my classmates at Longwood University.

When I looked at Alison with her blonde hair and what seemed would be a bubbly personality, I thought of Rachel who sat beside me in reporting class and went on to work for a station in Richmond.

When I looked at Adam, I saw some of the fun-loving, goofy guys in my class who could always make us laugh but always got the job done.

These individuals were 24 and 27, not long out of college working at a Roanoke station trying to make a living giving a voice to the voiceless.

The worst came out of people during this time as Alison’s dad took on a crusade against guns, and people began calling the situation “fake” and a stunt to get the world riled up about guns.

Just as my friend said at the time, if anyone has the guts to call it fake, why don’t they say that to Alison’s family or Adam’s or maybe their fiance, their coworkers or maybe even Gardner who watched it all.

These two were someone’s children, grandchildren, friends, fiancé and coworker.

I’m not sure why I was supposed to see that broadcast, but I believe someone wanted me to, and I’m glad I did.

May no one forget Alison Parker and Adam Ward.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at