A man who was fired from his job as a television reporter two years ago took revenge against the small-town Virginia news station by executing two of his former coworkers on live television, and then posting disturbing first-person video of the attack on social media.
Viewers of WDBJ, a CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched in horror this morning as Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on live TV as the two were filming a light-hearted segment at 6:45am.
After carrying out the shocking on-air execution, Ward fled and posted video of the attack on social media while also writing about his grudges against the two young journalists in a Twitter rant.
He also faxed a 23-page manifesto-cum-suicide note to a national news station outlining his motives for the attack, saying he bought the handgun he used following the Charleston Church killings, adding: 'my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them'.
Five hours later, police cornered Flanagan a three hours drive northeast in Fauquier County, Virginia where he shot himself in an attempt to commit suicide. Flanagan initially survived the gunshot wound, but died not long after at approximately 1:30pm
A disgruntled former news reporter filmed himself executing two of his ex-coworkers as they recorded a live television segment in Moneta, Virginia, this morning. Above, the video taken by alleged gunman Vester Lee Flanagan, who went on-air by the name Bryce Williams
Reporter Alison Parker, 24, (left and right), died at the scene after being shot on live television, along with cameraman Adam Ward, 27. Ward's fiancee, a producer at the news channel, was believed to be watching from the control room as the killing happened
While Flanagan was recording the video on his own camera, the shooting was being played out on live TV. Above, a grab of this morning's WDBJ newscast with Parker on the left and Vicki Gardner on the right. Gardner was being interviewed by Parker at the time and suffered a bullet wound to the back. She is now in stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery
After cameraman Ward dropped to the ground, his camera kept rolling and the shooter is seen in the background leveling a gun at him before controllers at WDBJ cut the feed
The feed then cut back to the studio where the morning anchor had an expression of sheer shock on her face after witnesses the crime
Meanwhile, Flanagan was already making his way out of Moneta. It's believed that he first went to a nearby airport where he switched cars with a rental he had waiting and then started driving east towards the Washington, DC area.
All morning, alerts went out across western Virginia, warning that the gunman was on the loose and authorities said they were 'right behind him'.
However, it wasn't until five hours later that he was finally brought to a stop in Fauquier County, Virginia, about a three hours drive northeast of MOneta - just before noon.
Reports first stated that Flanagan had committed suicide, but authorities changed their statement to say that he was still alive. Nevertheless, he passed away around 1:30pm at a hospital in northern Virginia.
Both Parker, 24 (left), and Ward, 27 (right), died at the scene. Parker was dating fellow WDBJ reporter Christ Hurst, 28, and the pair had just moved in together, while Ward was engaged to WDBJ news producer Melissa Ott
After the shooting was broadcast on live TV at 6.45am, WDBJ's general manager came on the air to confirm the deaths, saying: 'It's my very very sad duty to report... that Alison and Adam died this morning'
Before he was caught by police, Flanagan took to Twitter to explain his reasons for killing his former coworkers.
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 general assignment reporter. It's unclear what - if anything - happened between the two men.
This afternoon it has been revealed that Flanagan was believed to be living in an apartment in Roanoak, just a few blocks away from the headquarters of WDBJ, before carrying out the shooting earlier today.
Police have been seen removing items from the apartment this afternoon, while reporters at the scene have been told to leave.
It has also been revealed that after being fired from his job reporting for WDBJ Flanagan took up work at a UnitedHealthcare call center, where he worked until November 2014. It is not known why he left the job.
But the most shocking post of all was a video Flanagan took of the attack, which he shared on his Twitter and Facebook.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, who is seen running away in fear. Parker and Ward died at the scene while Gardner was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery and is now in stable condition.
After posting the graphic video of the attack, Flanagan's Twitter account was suspended.
Ward's lifeless body is seen on the ground in the building where he and Parker were fatally shot Wednesday morning
ABC says a man by the name of Bryce Williams first contacted them a few weeks ago, wanting to pitch a story but he wouldn't say what it was about.
This morning, that same man contacted them again, sending them a fax two hours after the shooting.
In the fax, described as a suicide note to friends and family, Flanagan says he became angered after the Charleston church killings and praised Virginia Tech shooter Seung–Hui Cho as 'my boy'.
Flanagan, who was raised as a Jehova's witness in California, also said Jehovah made him act.
'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…'
'What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.'
'As for Dylann Roof? You [redacted]! You want a race war [redacted]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[redacted]!!!”
At the same time, he professes a deep respect for other mass shooters like Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho.
'Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin’.
He goes on to say that he has faced both racial and sexual discrimination as a black, gay man and that he was just waiting to explode.
'Yes, it will sound like I am angry...I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace...'
'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!!!!'
At one point in the manifesto he even confesses to killing his cats in a forest close to where he lives, blaming the news station for the animals' deaths.
Flanagan previously worked as a multimedia and general assignment reporter at WDBJ, before he was fired two years ago.
When he was fired from WDBJ in 2013, he had to be escorted out of the building by local police 'because he was not going to leave willingly or under his own free will,' the station's former news director, Dan Dennison, said in an interview with a Hawaii station, Hawaii News Now (KHNL/KGMB).
Flanagan, 41, had 'a long series of complaints against co-workers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station,' said Dennison, now an official with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.
'All of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. And they were largely under along racial lines, and we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man.'
According to the station, the situation got so bad he was asked to contact employee healthcare over fears for his mental stability.