A Virginia State Police officer reportedly censored two BBC journalists following Wednesday’s tragic shooting that took the lives of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. After Vester Lee Flanagan (AKA Bryce Williams) opened fire at a local shopping center, killing the 24-year-old local reporter and the 27-year-old cameraman, he led police on a pursuit before he ran his vehicle off the highway and crashed.
Police found him suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Flanagan was transported to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
BBC journalists Franz Strasser and Tara McKelvey were reporting from the scene of the crash when one of the officers approached the pair and ordered them to delete their footage. “Just at the scene of the suspects [sic] shooting on I-66. Police told me to delete footage or lose camera,” Strasser tweeted. “Reason for confiscating camera was that it was evidence. Threatened to tow the car because it was illegally parked,” he said in a follow-up tweet about an hour later.
Beyond the officer’s reliance on petty parking regulations to threaten the journalists, Strasser’s claims — if true — suggest an inherent contradiction in his demands. If the camera needed to be confiscated because it contained evidence, why would the officers insist that exact same evidence be deleted?