The disgruntled former news reporter who shot dead two of his ex-coworkers during a live TV segment this morning in Moneta, Virginia had a grudge against the journalist and cameraman he killed.
Vester Lee Flanagan, who also goes by Bryce Williams, started tweeting just after 11am this morning explaining why he opened fire on WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27.
Flanagan, who is African American, wrote that Parker made ‘racist comments’ and that a complaint was filed against her through the equal employment opportunity commission, but his station chose to hire her anyway.
As for Ward, Flanagan says that after working with the cameraman once, Ward complained to HR about the former multimedia and general assignment reporter. It’s unclear what exactly happened between the two men.
But the most shocking post of all was a video Flanagan took of the attack, which he shared on his Twitter.The chilling clip is taken from Flanagan’s point of view and shows him approaching the two journalists as they were interviewing Vicki Gardner, the local chamber of commerce. He opens fire first on Ward and then turns to kill Parker. Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, died at the scene while Gardner was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery.
After posting the graphic video of the attack, Flanagan’s Twitter account was suspended.
Flanagan has somehow been able to post to social media despite being pursued by police.
Earlier this morning, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said police are ‘right behind’ the suspect and believe he will be in custody soon.
‘Law enforcement personnel have a photo of the suspect. We believe it’s a disgruntled former employee of the station, and they’re in pursuit,’ Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told WTOP.
Flanagan, who also goes by Bryce Williams, allegedly worked at WDBJ as a multimedia and general assignment reporter before being fired.
He is believed to be driving a 2009 gray Mustang. However, authorities have not officially named Flanagan as a suspect.
WDBJ viewers watched in horror this morning as shots rang out on live TV.
Flanagan shot dead reporter Parker and Ward as the two were conducting a live interview with Gardner about an upcoming event at a local lake.
Suddenly eight shots ring out and screams are heard as the women duck down and the camera falls to the floor. The camera is still running as a person dressed in all black appears and aims a gun at Ward.
‘It’s my very very sad duty to report… that Alison and Adam died this morning,’ WDBJ’s general manager came on the air to say after the incident.
Both Parker and Ward were in relationships with other employees at the news station. Ward was engaged to Melissa Ott, a news producer who was working on the show that morning and watched from the control room as the shooting happened.
It was Ott’s last day on the job. She was about to start a new job in Charlotte, North Carolina and Ward planned to move with her. The crew had a party earlier that morning to celebrate her last day.
Parker’s boyfriend of nine months was WDBJ public safety and mental health reporter Chris Hurst, 28.
The couple had just moved in together. Hurst took to Twitter to convey his unfathomable pain:
‘It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married.We just celebrated her 24th birthday,’ he wrote.
Hurst only revealed the relationship to viewers after the tragedy.Moneta is located in northwestern Virginia, about 40 minutes southeast of Roanoke
Ott was producing the news Wednesday morning, and it was her last day on the show. Ott was starting a new job in Charlotte and Ward was going to move with her. The news crew had a party for Ott that morning
‘We didn’t share this publicly, but [Alison] and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb.’
According to her bio at WDBJ7.com, Parker was the station’s morning reporter. A local girl, Parker had spent much of her life outside Martinsville, about an hour from where she was tragically gunned down Wednesday.
She graduated from James Madison University just three years ago. While there, she interned at the local ABC/Fox affiliate and was news editor for her university’s nationally recognized newspaper, The Breeze.
Photographer Ward was a Virginia Tech graduate who attended high school in Salem, less than an hour from the scene of his murder.
The two Virginia natives often worked together on WDBJ stories.
In April, they traveled together to Appomattox for the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. In February, the station posted photos of the duo to Facebook as they dressed up as bride and groom at a local bridal store.