The only suspect in the Virginia shooting death of a TV journalist and her cameraman has shot himself and has died. A short time before doing so Vester Flanagan, 41, posted a video from his vantage point of him shooting to death Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27. Flanagan was a disgruntled former employee of the CBS affliliate the victims worked for.
Cameraman Ward was filming reporter Parker doing an early morning interview being broadcast live to CBS affiliate WDBJ7 in Roanke, Virginia from the Bridgewater Plaza, a Smith Mountain Lake resort full of shops and restaurants. The resort is 90 miles from Richmond.
Parker was speaking with a Vicki Gardner of the local Chamber of Commerce when she jerks away, screams, and the camera falls to the ground. She and Ward were shot dead; Gardner was wounded and is expected to survive; as many as 15 shots were fired.
Flanagan, also known on-air as Bryce Williams, posted his video on Twitter and Facebook but both have since been taken down. He also sent a 23-page diatribe to ABC News, which they are working to confirm was sent by him, and wrote online that his motives were racial. Flanagan was black and Parker and Ward were white; Flanagan had once said Parker had made a racist comment and Ward had spoken out against him.
The shooting took place during the station’s morning show. When it happened the show went back to studio and a clearly fazed female anchor said they did not know what had occured and managed to move on with other items.
Jeff Marks, the station’s manager, said that Flanagan was an “unhappy man” whom others found difficult to work with. He had been an on-air reporter but was fired two-years ago and at the time had to be escorted from the building by police. Flanagan had launched a lawsuit claiming racism at the station but according to Marks the Equal Opportunity Commission found no corraboration and Flanagan’s complaint was dismissed.
Police chased Flanagan on Interstate 66 and it appears he shot himself while in a vehicle.