Virginia shooting: Suspect had unhappy history at TV station

WDBJ-TV officials say Vester Flanagan was sacked after becoming hard to work with

Vester Flanagan, the man suspected of shooting two US TV journalists dead during a broadcast and who later fatally shot himself, was a former employee at the same TV channel, WDBJ-TV.

Vester Flanagan died following a lengthy police pursuit after reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed on air as they worked on a live broadcast at a shopping centre in Moneta, central Virginia.

Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams on the air, was found with a gunshot wound after his car crashed.

According to officials from the station, Flanagan was known for being unhappy, angry and hard to work with. He was eventually sacked.


The Twitter account used to post the video of the shootings included the comments “I filmed the shooting see Facebook”, “Adam went to (human resources) on me after working with me one time!!!” and “Alison made racist comments. EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] report filed. They hired her after that???”

The account was later suspended but the video had already been copied and was viewable elsewhere online.

WDBJ-TV went live for its noon broadcast, giving details about the suspect.

It said Vester Lee Flanagan II appeared on air at the station as Bryce Williams.

Also, ABC News reported that someone using the name Bryce Williams faxed the organisation a lengthy 23-page document that it has turned over to authorities.

Jeffrey Marks, WDBJ's president and general manager, said 41-year-old Flanagan had to be escorted by police out of the station when he was sacked.

Mr Marks described him as “an unhappy man” and “difficult to work with”, always “looking out for people to say things he could take offence to”.

“Eventually after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. He did not take that well,” Mr Marks explained.

Mr Marks said Williams alleged that other employees made racially tinged comments to him, but said his EEOC claim was dismissed and none of his allegations could be corroborated.

“We think they were fabricated,” Mr Marks said.

"This gentleman was disturbed at way things had turned out at some point in his life. Things were spiralling out of control," Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton Jr said at a news conference.

Both the victims were romantically involved with other employees at the station, according to Ms Parker's boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.

He wrote online that they had not shared their relationship publicly but “were very much in love”.

Mr Hurst said they had just moved in together and wanted to get married. “I am numb,” he said.

The shooting happened at about 6.45am at Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County, as Ms Parker interviewed Ms Gardner about the upcoming 50th anniversary festivities for Smith Mountain Lake, a local tourism destination.

WDBJ spokesman Mike Morgan said of Mr Ward: "Adam was our go-to guy. He pretty much was available to do anything that we asked.

“He did live shots during our morning show for several years.”

Ms Parker had joined the station as an intern after attending James Madison University, where she was the editor of the school's newspaper, the Breeze.

According to her Facebook page, Ms Parker spent most of her life outside Martinsville, Virginia. She was an avid kayaker and attended community theatre events in her spare time.

Press Association