Gunman Dead After Murdering 2 VA Journalists, Was Former WDBJ Reporter
A former WDBJ7 employee who gunned down a reporter and photographer on live television this morning in Virginia has died after he shot himself on I-66, state police say.
Police say 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II killed 24-year-old WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old photographer Adam Ward in Moneta, Va. The suspect also wounded Vicki Gardner, who was being interviewed at the time of the attack. She underwent surgery and is in stable condition.
Flanagan used to be a WDBJ7 reporter known as Bryce Williams. The station's general manager Jeffrey Marks recently spoke about Flanagan, describing him as "unhappy" and explaining that he was dismissed after "anger" incidents.
Flanagan allegedly posted his own cell phone video of the shooting on both Facebook and Twitter. Both of his accounts have been suspended.
He alleged in a series of tweets that Parker made racist remarks to him and that Ward "went to HR on me after working with me one time!!!"
Marks said on "Happening Now" that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed Flanagan's complaint.
“He was a difficult person for a lot of people to work with,” Marks said.
ABC News said on Twitter that it received a 23-page fax from someone claiming to Bryce Williams. The manifesto said that the Charleston church shooting triggered today's attack (read more here).
— ABC News (@ABC) August 26, 2015
Both the victims were romantically involved with other employees at the station, according to Parker's boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.
Parker had just turned 24. She had just completed a special report on child abuse at the station, where she had worked as an intern. She attended James Madison University, where she was the editor of the school's newspaper, The Breeze. According to her Facebook page, Parker spent most of her life outside Martinsville, Virginia. She was an avid kayaker and attended community theater events in her spare time.
Hurst said they hadn't shared their relationship publicly but "were very much in love." He said they had just moved in together and wanted to get married. "I am numb," he said.
Ward, 27, graduated from Virginia Tech University and was engaged to a producer at the station, Melissa Ott, said WDBJ spokesman Mike Morgan.
"Adam was our go-to guy. He pretty much was available to do anything that we asked," Morgan said. "He did live shots during our morning show for several years."
The station is based in Roanoke, Virginia, and serves the southwest and central part of the state. The shopping mall where the incident happened is just off Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, about 25 miles southeast of Roanoke.