What slain WDBJ reporter’s father is vowing after tragedy

Posted at 10:42 AM, Aug 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-30 10:42:39-04

WASHINGTON — Andy Parker, the father of the Virginia reporter who was shot and killed on live television last week, said Sunday that he wants to play a leading role in a pro-gun control movement.

“I’m telling you, they messed with the wrong family,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday on “State of the Union.”

Parker is the father of 24-year-old Alison Parker, who was shot and killed along with her cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, near Roanoke, Virginia, by Vester Lee Flanagan.

The shooter sent ABC News a fax before his death outlining his racial motivations and saying he decided to buy the gun in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting in June.

“This person, to me, he doesn’t even register,” Andy Parker said Sunday of Flanagan, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “What registers is he was mentally disturbed and he was allowed to pass a background check.”

He said his biggest fear after his daughter’s death is that her story will fade from the headlines quickly.

But he said he’ll become an advocate for gun control, saying he’s been in contact with Mark Kelly, the astronaut wife of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was targeted by a shooter, as well as representatives for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun control supporter.

“I’m going to be working on this for a long time. I know that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” he said, adding that he’d work on the issue with Chris Hurst, Parker’s boyfriend and an employee of the same Virginia television station.

Parker said he and Hurst want to “put this thing together and make a difference and speak as one voice and hold the politicians’ feet to the fire.”

He pointed to a California measure that allows law enforcement and relatives to request a gun owner’s firearms be taken away if they feel the person is mentally ill.

Parker said a similar law in Virginia “probably would have prevented this from happening.”

He pointed to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump’s comments that the killing is related to mental health challenges.

“It is a mental health issue,” Parker said. “But there’s a linkage there between guns and mental health. And there’s got to be some kind of protocol established so that we keep people from getting guns.”

“You always think there’s a tipping point. We thought that when Gabby was shot, you know, something would happen. With Sandy Hook, something would happen. With Aurora, something would happen. And it never did,” Parker said.

“But I think people recognizing who the victim was and what she represented and how kind and sweet and innocent she was, I think this time it’s going to be different,” he said.