CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The gunshots that took the lives of a reporter and photographer in Roanoke, Virginia, came unexpectedly during a live early Wednesday morning broadcast.
They left journalists in newsrooms across the country numb and experts like former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker saying criminals are crossing lines that have been sacrosanct until now.
"Really nothing is off limits. Nothing is out of bounds,” Swecker said.
He said even though the shooter in Virginia was a disgruntled former employee who knew the news crew killed there is reasonable concern about a new kind of mindset among criminals of all kinds who are playing by a very different set of rules.
"Whatever the motive is, it does appear that there's a changing dynamic here,” he said. “We're an open society and people should realize they're vulnerable.”
Recent events in North Carolina have highlighted the potential vulnerability of others, like judges, who've traditionally been considered "off limits" for retribution.
Earlier this year, former Superior CourtJudge Richard Boner and federal judge Frank Whitney were provided security after their pictures were allegedly found in the jail cell of a reputed gang leader.
Boner said it was a wake-up call.
"There's more of a credible threat there, I think," Boner said.
Now retired, Boner said the threats didn't make his actual job tougher, but said, "It just means you're going to have to be more on guard for your own personal safety.”
Swecker said the shooting of journalists on the job should heighten awareness for everyone in the workforce.
"It happened on camera so that's a little different, and that has to be something that's on the minds of HR people and CEOs all across the country,” Swecker said.
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