Disgruntled Journalist Records Himself Killing Two Former Colleagues
A former journalist with a long history of anger management issues shot and killed two former colleagues Wednesday from the Virginia news station he had been fired from in 2013, recording the shooting on a Go-Pro camera and posting it online – providing viewers with a chilling first person angle of the murders.
Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, whose on-air name was Bryce Williams, then fled in a rental car, which he crashed as Virginia State police began pursuing him.
He then turned the gun on himself and shot himself and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The :56 video of the shooting, posted below, shows Flanagan walking up to Alison Parker and Adam Ward who were conducting a live interview of a woman for a story, pausing for several seconds before lifting the gun and firing.
He first shot Parker several times, a 24-year-old reporter for WDBJ-TV, a CBS affiliate serving the Roanoke-Lynchburg television market, before turning the gun on Ward, a 27-year-old videographer for the station.
The woman they were interviewing, Vicki Gardner, was also shot but survived, according to ABC News, who also said it received a 23-page fax from a man claiming to be Flanagan after the shooting.
ABC News published portions of the manifesto here.
The shooting took place at 6:45 a.m. Police apprehended him at 11:30 a.m. He was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m.
WDBJ-TV provided the following statement to Buzzfeed:
“Vester was an unhappy man. We employed him as a reporter and he had some talent in that respect and some experience,” Marks said. “He quickly gathered a reputation of someone who was difficult to work with. He was sort of looking out to people to say things he could take offense to. Eventually, after many incidents of his anger, we dismissed him. He did not take that well. We had to call police to escort him from the building.”
After the shooting, Flanagan posted the video to Facebook and Twitter, claiming that Parker had made racist comments towards him at some point during his employment at the station, which last from 2012 to 2013.
He also claimed that Ward had filed a complaint against him to human resources. He also stated that he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about Parker.
But Flanagan had a long history of filing complaints and lawsuits against employers alleging racial discrimination.
Both his Twitter and Facebook accounts have been removed, but below is a screenshot of his Twitter feed from before it was removed.
Parker had just moved in with journalist colleague Chris Hurst, who posted the following on Twitter. Ward was engaged to a morning producer at the station.
Below is the video of the shooting along with a video reel of Flanagan’s television live shoots he had compiled during two decades of journalism, including a segment about a gun store where he stands in front of the camera holding a gun.
UPDATED: Below is a video of the footage from Ward’s camera during the live shoot, which shows the shocked expression of WDBJ-TV anchor who had been talking to Parker during the interview.