Roanoke: Breaking the News

At the beginning of last week, December 6, I was stationed with a video camera in a Southeast neighborhood of Roanoke (in fact, it was the Southeast Roanoke neighborhood that I actually live in) waiting for police to descend on a man who had begun an armed standoff with them. He was barricaded in a house, had already let his hostages go, the neighboring houses had also been evacuated, and it was freezing cold outside. See the story here on

A screengrab from my video showing a police officer in a sniper position during the armed standoff

After about two hours, the reporter leans over and whispers “We got another assignment, quick, let’s go.”

That assignment was the murder of a Roanoke County mother and the amber alert that had been issued for her 12-year-old daughter, Brittany Smith, who was believed to have been abducted by her mother’s 32-year-old boyfriend, Jeffrey Easley. Since Monday, I’ve produced about six videos (on top of my other daily work) pertaining to the story, mostly press conferences, police work and family members pleading for her safe return.

Covering a story like this can be extremely difficult as well as a heartbreaking experience for the family and devastating for a small community like Roanoke County. For me, the whole experience has been a real-life lesson in breaking news, being a flexible video reporter, quick editing, improvising, working with a newsroom team (everyone has pitched in some way or another) and being prepared to multitask on assignment — for one press conference, I even pulled double duty, shooting and editing both pictures and video of the event, on deadline.

My picture featured in The Roanoke Times, Thursday, December 9, 2010 edition as part of the A1 centerpiece, after the jump.

Fortunately the little girl was found in San Francisco on Friday. We are all still patiently awaiting more details of her harrowing week and for the police to reveal more details of her mother’s murder.

Catch up on the story so far and keep up with future coverage on our Brittany Smith Ongoing Coverage page at