On Wednesday, ABC affiliate KVIA said that Vester Lee Flanagan, the man who recorded himself shooting WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and a photographer during a live interview, faxed a lengthy 23-page document explaining his motive for the brutal slayings. He cited racism, the Charleston church shootings, and alleged sexual harassment and bullying at work. In the “manifesto,” Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams, claimed that God instructed him to act.
“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15,” he wrote. “What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”
It’s not entirely certain whose initials Flanagan meant, ABC said. It is clear from reports that Flanagan was an individual with a number of issues and was apparently itching for a race war. He also identified as gay, which he claimed was the basis for the allegations of sexual harassment.
“As for Dylann Roof? You (expletive deleted)! You want a race war (expletive deleted)?” he asked. “BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(expletive deleted)!!!”
“Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am,” he added. “And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”
According to reports, Flanagan was dismissed from WDBJ in 2013. Station management said he had built up a reputation as someone who was “difficult to work with.” In November 2012, for example, he was written up for wearing a Barack Obama sticker. That same year, he “was given a ‘1,’ the lowest rating, for being ‘respectful to coworkers at all times,’ but a ‘4’ for work diligence and attendance,” the Huffington Post said.
“On three separate occasions in the past month and a half, you have behaved in a manner that has resulted in one or more of your co-workers feeling threatened or uncomfortable,” one station staff member reportedly wrote in May 2012. “He was looking for people to say things he could take offense to,” said WDBJ general manager Jeff Marks.
Flanagan was reportedly fired after numerous incidents. “He did not take that well,” Marks said. “We had to call the police to escort him from the building.” Flanagan allegedly said: “You better call police because I’m going to make a big stink.”
Flanagan then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but it was dismissed after the agency found no evidence of wrongdoing. As it happens, he filed a similar complaint after being fired from another station in Tallahassee, Florida. The EEOC dismissed that complaint as well.
“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!” he said. And on Wednesday morning, he went “boom,” killing two station workers in cold blood. Two hours later, he sent the fax, which, ABC said, was handed over to authorities. Flanagan later died after shooting himself.