Virginia chamber of commerce executive in stable condition after on-air shooting
(CNN) — The chamber of commerce executive shot during a live news broadcast in Virginia was in stable condition Wednesday after undergoing emergency surgery, officials said.
Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, underwent surgery after she was shot in the back, said Barb Nocera, the chamber’s special projects manager.
Gardner was recovering at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, hospital president Steve Arner said Wednesday. Gardner is also a member of the hospital’s board of directors and is “a close friend” of the institution, he said in a statement.
Gardner has been working at the chamber since 2002, according to her LinkedIn page.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called the shooting, which killed two journalists, a “senseless tragedy.”
“We also continue to pray for the safe recovery of Vicki Gardner, who was wounded in this terrible incident,” he said.
Wednesday’s shooting occurred when Gardner was being interviewed in a live broadcast by reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward of Virginia-based WDBJ-TV.
Parker and Ward were killed in the shooting at Bridgewater Plaza near Moneta.
A man sought in connection with the shooting shot himself as police confronted him on Interstate 66 in Virginia, and he has been identified as former WDBJ-TV reporter Vester Flanagan, who used the name Bryce Williams on air, according to law enforcement officials and a former WDBJ employee.
As executive director of the chamber, Gardner was a leading figure promoting business development and recreational attractions at the lake community near Roanoke, Virginia.
Smith Mountain Lake is noted in Virginia for being the state’s second-largest freshwater lake and is a scenic attraction with more than 500 miles of shoreline along the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia, according to the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Virginia State Parks website.
Smith Mountain Lake is a reservoir whose dam on the Roanoke River was built in the 1960s, the project’s website says.
The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce is organizing a 50th anniversary event in 2016, the chamber’s Facebook page says.
The lake is home to residents and recreational businesses, and the water in Smith Mountain Lake passes through hydroelectric generators to provide electricity for the region, the dam project’s website says.
The water and landscape attract anglers, boaters, campers, cyclists, and picnickers, the state parks website says.
The lake’s 1,148-acre state park is 33 miles southeast of Roanoke and 150 miles west of the state capital of Richmond.