What we know about Virginia TV station crew shooting suspect Vester Lee Flanagan
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
ROANOKE, Va. -- New information is emerging about the suspect in the fatal shooting of a television reporter and photographer in Virginia Wednesday.
The suspect in the incident has been identified as 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II, of Roanoke. He is a former employee at WDBJ, where he used the name Bryce Williams on air.
Officials said Flanagan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Police said Flanagan shot and killed reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward while they were live on TV for a report during WDBJ's morning newscast at about 6:45 a.m. ET. The person they were interviewing was also injured in the shooting and is recovering in the hospital. Flanagan then took off, according to police.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE SUSPECT
WORK HISTORYFlanagan was hired at WDBJ as a "multimedia journalist and general assignment reporter" in April 2012, according to a TV industry blog, TVSpy.The site said he previously worked at a number of TV stations in the South, including WNCT in Greenville, North Carolina, WTWC in Tallahassee, Florida, and WTOC in Savannah, Georgia.Flanagan graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from San Francisco State University in 1995. He worked as an intern, and then later an assignment desk assistant for KPIX in San Francisco.WDBJ General Manager Jeffrey Marks said Flanagan was "an unhappy man." He said the reporter was dismissed two years ago after becoming someone who "quickly became known for a reputation for being difficult to work with." Marks continued on, saying Flanagan was always "looking out for people to say things that he would take offense to." He said the station dismissed Flanagan and "eventually had to call police to escort him out of the building."
BEFORE THE SHOOTINGABC News received a 23-page fax some time between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from someone claiming to be Bryce Williams. The person wrote that Wednesday's shooting was in reaction to the Charleston church shooting. The document also contained references to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and 1999 Columbine High School shooting. ABC News turned the fax over to authorities. It's not confirmed yet whether this came from Flanagan.Police said Flanagan rented a Chevy Sonic earlier in the month, and that was the car he was driving Wednesday.
DURING THE SHOOTING
One single frame of video caught a glimpse of the gunman involved the shooting, as the camera was falling to the ground. The station spread the image on social media so that the public could help identify the suspect:
AFTER THE SHOOTINGPolice said Flanagan left the scene after the shooting. Hours later, videos appeared on social media sites Twitter and Facebook under the name "Bryce Williams" that showed what would be the gunman's perspective of the shooting. Those accounts have since been taken down.Just before 11:30 a.m., Virginia State Police said a trooper's license plate reader flagged Flanagan's vehicle, which was headed eastbound on Interstate 66. The trooper followed the car, waiting for backup to arrive, and then tried to pull the car over. But police said Flanagan kept going and sped away. Flanagan's vehicle ran off the road and crashed. When troopers approached the car, they found Flanagan inside with a gunshot wound. He was flown to the hospital where he died at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Keep checking back for updates as we learn more about Flanagan.
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