Va. Reporter, Photographer Killed During Live Broadcast
ROANOKE, Va. - The gunman believed to have shot and killed a Virginia reporter and photographer during a live broadcast Wednesday morning has died, according to police.
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A law enforcement official said the suspect in the on-air shooting of two TV station employees died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Franklin County Sheriff W.Q. "Bill" Overton Jr. gave released new details Wednesday during a news conference.
Watch the afternoon press conference on the FOX 5 Atlanta YouTube Channel
Officials said suspect Vester Flanagan died at 1:26 Wednesday at a hospital in Northern Virginia. Authorities said the man killed his former co-workers — reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward — during a live broadcast for WDBJ-TV Wednesday morning outside a shopping mall.
WDBJ7 said Flanagan shot himself near mile marker 17 on Interstate 66 in Faquier County around 11:25 a.m. Wednesday. The Associated Press said he was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Officials later confirmed he died. Virginia State Police said that as they pursued the suspect in an on-air fatal shooting, he ran off the road and crashed, and was found with an apparent self-inflicted a gunshot wound.
The station has said Flanagan went by Bryce Williams on air. While he worked at the station they said he was angry and difficult to work with. He was eventually fired. Jeffrey Marks of WDBJ talked briefly on air about Flanagan. Marks said Flanagan was hired as a reporter a few years ago after a while out of the TV news business.
"Eventually, after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. He did not take that well," said Marks.
Marks said that when Flanagan was fired, police had to escort him from the building. Marks said that Flanagan alleged that other employees made racially-tinged comments to him and that he filed a complaint with the EEOC, but Marks said the allegations couldn't be corroborated. He said the claim was dismissed.
Marks said Flanagan remained in town after being fired, and every now and then, station employees ran into him.
WDBJ listed Bryce Williams as a reporter at the station on its website on Jan. 17, 2013. By Feb. 8 that same year, his name no longer appeared on the site.
FOX 5 Atlanta captured several tweets believed to have been sent by the alleged shooter. Several national media outlets report receiving a manifesto from Flanagan describing what prompted the shooting. ABC News said it received a fax from someone who claimed to be Bryce Williams, a person on the staff at the Virginia station that saw two employees fatally shot on air. ABC News said on its website that sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, it received the fax. It described it as a lengthy document of 23 pages. ABC News said it has turned the document over to authorities.
FOX News obtained a portion of the manifesto released by ABC:
“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!!!!”.
Later, the shooter allegedly expressed his admiration for the Columbine High School killers and quoted the Virginia Tech mass shooter by stating “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin."
The shooter called the document a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family”.
Shooting Live on Air
According to WDBJ7.com, reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward died when a gunman opened fire during their live shot at Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, which is near Roanoke. The shooting took place around 6:45 a.m.
A third victim in the shooting was identified by the station. WDBJ-TV said on its website that Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce was wounded in the incident Wednesday morning. She was being interviewed by reporter Alison Parker about tourism.
Alison Parker and Adam Ward
Both victims were from the station's viewing area.
According to her bio page on the station's website, Parker grew up outside of Martinsville, Virginia and she graduated from James Madison University in 2012. She was just 24-years-old. Parker was dating a fellow WDBJ co-worker, Chris Hurst.
"We were together almost nine months," Hurst posted on his Facebook page. "It was the best nine months of our lives."
Hurst also said on Facebook they were very much in love. He described Parker as radiant and full of life.
Ward, the other victim, was 27-years-old. He was engaged to WDBJ's morning show producer.
The Associate Press, WDBJ, and several FOX stations contributed to this report