A Virginia news crew was killed by 41-year-old gunman Vester Lee Flanagan. The shooter gunned down two members of a Virginia news crew this morning, and reportedly died in a hospital from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Flanagan filmed the shootings and released the footage via his social media accounts. Raw footage of the shooting can be seen here. (Caution)
According to investigators, the suspect, who also went by the name Bryce Williams, is a former employee of the news station who had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity grievance against WDBJ Channel 7.
Writes The Associated Press, via MSN News: “The man suspected of killing a TV reporter and cameraman during a live broadcast sued a former employer over allegations of race discrimination in 2000. Vester Flanagan, who also appeared on air under the pseudonym Bryce Williams, sued the station in March 2000. The lawsuit claimed that a producer called him a ‘monkey’ in 1999 and that other black employees had been called the same name by other workers.”
During a live broadcast, on-site television reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were both gunned down while filming an interview at a shopping center in Virginia. Eight shots were fired, killing the two reporters and wounding Vicki Gardner, a local economic development official who was being interviewed.
The feed then switched back to the stunned anchor, who said: “Okay not sure what happened there. We will of course let you know as soon as we find out what those sounds were from.”
Adds Fox News: In the Twitter video, a cell phone camera angle shows the shooter walking up to a reporter, interviewee and camera man and pointing a gun at them. The trio, in the midst of the interview, does not see the shooter approach or the pistol pointing at them. The shooter initially stops near the group and points the gun away. After a few seconds, he aims again and begins firing, first at reporter Alison Parker, who screams and runs as the video ends.
“They were loved, they were positive people, they never shied away from an assignment,” station manager Jeff Marks said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the shooting is “another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small all across the United States.”
According to Virginia State Police, Flanagan’s vehicle was spotted eastbound on Interstate 66. Troopers attempted to initiate a stop, but Flanagan fled and a pursuit ensued. Shortly thereafter, Flanagan crashed his car, and troopers found him bleeding out from at least one self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Station manager Jeff Marks said Flanagan is “an unhappy man” that had “some talent” as a reporter but was ultimately fired for a number of offenses.
“He quickly gathered a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with,” Marks said, adding that Flanagan would quickly “take offense” and label people as racists. “Eventually after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. And he did not take that well, we had to call the police to escort him from the building…Since then, well, he then filed an action with the Equal Opportunity Employment Committee in which he made all kinds of complaints.”
Marks said “none of [Flanagan’s complaints] could be corroborated by anyone, we think they were fabricated.”
Flanagan reportedly had an issue with both Parker and Ward. Prior to his social media accounts being taken down, Flanagan wrote: “I filmed the shooting see Facebook,” and that “Adam went to [human resources] on me after working with me one time!” and “Alison made racist comments. EEOC report filed. They hired her after that?”