The man police believe shot and killed two journalists and
wounded a third woman during a live segment Wednesday morning
has died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, authorities
confirmed in a press conference.
Just before 11:30 a.m., Virginia State Police spotted the
vehicle of suspect Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, heading east on
Interstate 66, according to a statement. A trooper put on his
lights but Flanagan sped away, the release said.
"Minutes later, the suspect vehicle ran off the road and
crashed," the statement said. "The troopers approached the
vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot
Flanagan used to work for Roanoke-based TV station WDBJ, where
the slain journalists also worked, and went by the name Bryce
Williams on air, multiple outlets report.
A Twitter account associated with Williams' name, which showed a
video of the shooting, was suspended Wednesday shortly after the
video was posted.
The same Twitter account from which video of the killings was
posted also tweeted out several messages, apparently referencing
the two victims.
Jeff Marks, the general manager of WDBJ, told CNN in an on-air
interview that Flanagan "did make accusations against some
people some time ago."
"You can never expect someone to come back and act on those
issues that were so old," Marks said. "What do you do? Do you
imagine that everybody who leaves the company under difficult
circumstances is going to take aim?"
Someone claiming to be Williams sent a 23-page fax to ABC News
some time between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the
network reported. In the fax, the sender says the shooting at a
Charleston, South Carolina, church earlier this summer pushed
him over the edge.
"Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The
Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…” the fax
said. “What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my
hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them."
Several outlets are reporting that Flanagan obtained the 9mm
Glock pistol legally, and that he passed background checks to
In the fax to ABC, he also says he's a victim of racial
discrimination and sexual harassment, and that he has been
targeted for being a gay black man.
"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!!!!”
San Diego 6 News Director Don Shafer told the California station
that he worked with Flanagan in 1996 at an NBC affiliate in
"He was a good on-air performer, a pretty good reporter. And
then things started getting a little strange with him," Shafer
said. "He threatened to punch people out. He was pretty
difficult to work with."
Former employees told multiple outlets that Flanagan had violent
outbursts. Station news director Kevin Zuber said Wednesday that
"many people in the newsroom" had ongoing issues with the
Shafer said Flanagan was later fired and sued the station for
racial discrimination. The case was eventually thrown out.
In a statement released Wednesday night, the family of the
suspected gunman expressed their sorrow over the killings.
"Words cannot express the hurt we feel for the victims," the
family said, requesting privacy from the media.
Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, died
shortly after the shooting, WDBJ announced. Multiple shots rang
out at around 6:45 a.m. during a broadcast from Smith Mountain
Lake in the community of Moneta.
Vicki Gardner, the executive director of the Smith Mountain
Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, who Parker was interviewing
at the time of the incident, was shot in the back and is
undergoing surgery, CNN reports. Franklin County Sheriff Bill
Overton said at a press conference that her injuries are not
Correction: Language has been updated to clarify what the sender
of the fax was referring to in the text, "And my hollow point
bullets have the victims’ initials on them." In this case,
"them" indicates the bullets.