(CNN)The man who police say killed two journalists during a live
broadcast Wednesday was no stranger to WDBJ-TV. He was Bryce
Williams, a reporter for the Roanoke, Virginia, station until he
was fired two years ago.
More accurately, Williams was the on-air name for Vester Lee
Williams died Wednesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,
hours after he fatally shot WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and
cameraman Adam Ward during the station's morning newscast. A
woman the journalists were interviewing, Vicki Gardner, also was
shot and is in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
The ex-reporter moved through several television markets in his
career, usually leaving after a few years, not always on good
terms. Williams, who was black, sued one former employer in
Florida for racial discrimination, a case that was later settled
out of court.
The accusation of racism surfaced again Wednesday when Williams'
Twitter account tweeted that Parker had made racist comments.
Another tweet suggested that Ward complained to human resources
officials after the pair worked together.
The shooting devastated Parker and Ward's colleagues, who
covered the story as they mourned, and was shocking for the way
it played out.
Williams' Twitter account featured video that showed the
shooting from the gunman's perspective.
The same footage was posted on a Facebook page, also under the
name Bryce Williams.
Both social media accounts were suspended within minutes of the
video being posted.
The video does not show who is holding the recording device. In
the footage, you see the camera approach the spot where Parker
and Ward were conducting a live shot. The person recording
hovers for a few moments just beside where the TV crew is
working. The reporter and cameraman don't appear to pay any
attention to the person.
Then a gun comes into the frame, aimed at Parker, and several
shots ring out.
Authorities later revealed that police tracked Williams' cell
phone to locate him.
"He was a good on-air performer, a pretty good reporter. And
then things started getting a little strange," San Diego 6 News
Director Don Shafer said. Shafer hired and fired Williams at a
Florida television station.
Shafer said he fired Williams for "odd behavior."
After his termination, Williams filed a lawsuit in 2000 against
WTWC-TV, a Tallahassee station.
Williams alleged a producer in an upper-level management
position called him a "monkey." The lawsuit also made other
allegations of racism, including that a white worker said
"blacks are lazy and do not take advantage of free money,"
referring to college scholarships, and that another employee
called a murder suspect "'just another thug.''
The case was settled out of court, according to court documents.
Marie Mattox, who represented Williams in that case, said she
didn't see in him then the possibility for such violence.
"I thought that he would go on with his life and be able to make
something productive of himself," she told CNN.
LaRell Reynolds, a former WDBJ employee, told CNN that Williams
was "not the best co-worker."
"He couldn't take criticism and he took it personally," Reynolds
said, adding that when Williams was let go he "threw a huge
"We were in a lockdown the day that he was fired, and a few days
later we had police detail that kind of watched over the
station," he said.
Orlando Salinas, another former WDBJ employee, told Adweek's
TVSpy that Williams often complained about racism in the
According to Salinas, on Williams' last day at the station, he
created a "ruckus" and other employees moved to another room
while police escorted him out of the building.
Williams filed a lawsuit against WDBJ, which was subsequently
Family members of the gunman released a statement saying their
thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, and
with the news station, CNN affiliate KRON reported.
"Words cannot express the hurt that we feel for the victims. Our
family is asking that the media respect our privacy," the
Police said Williams wrote a 23-page document that he faxed
after the shooting to ABC News.
The document "goes to show where the gentleman's mind was the
night before" the shooting, Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton
told reporters, but he did not disclose what it said.
ABC News confirmed it received the document, reporting Williams
wrote that his reaction to the racism of the Charleston, South
Carolina, church shooting in June led to Wednesday's events.
"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...," Williams
wrote, according to ABC. "What sent me over the top was the
church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims'
initials on them."