On August 26, 2015, 24-year-old TV journalist Alison Parker was doing a live cross just before 7am to WDBJ’s morning news program, Mornin‘ in Virginia.
As she interviewed a woman named Vicki Gardner, alternating between looking down the camera and then back at Gardner, a former colleague called Vester Lee Flanagan pointed a gun at her head and pulled the trigger. In the process, he shot cameraman Adam Ward and Gardner, though Gardner survived.
Adam Ward and Alison Parker died on live television.
Now, some two years after the fact, Alison Parker’s boyfriend, former TV journalist Christ Hurst, has turned her death into a force for good, winning a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates. Among other things, Hurst campaigned for tougher gun control, beating an NRA-backed candidate for the seat.
“Let this be a sign of how you can respond when things don’t go your way," Hurst told supporters when he claimed victory on Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, the former journalist told CNN’s New Day he could not continue working as a journalist after the death of his partner.
“Alison and Adam Ward’s death connected me to humanity more than anything else,” Hurst said.
“I, through tragedy, had a shared experience and common bond with so many who have gone through tragedy ... It galvanised me to my community.”
In a campaign ad, Hurst said he felt a responsibility after her death.
“I think it’s apathy and indifference from so many that led to Alison’s death, and I couldn’t be indifferent any longer,” he said.
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In a post on Facebook written in the days after Parker died, Hurst shared how much of an impact she had on him in their nine months together.
"We didn't share this publicly, but Alison Parker and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb. We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday. She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother. I am comforted by everyone at WDBJ7. We are a family.
"She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee. She is our morning show producer. This is unconscionable. But I WILL share her story because it is one full of life, dreams, love and amazing journalism. She just finished working on an incredible special on child abuse and it was fantastic. We will get through this and there will be justice. Your thoughts and prayers mean the world to me."