A disgruntled former WDBJ TV reporter who shot a reporter and a cameraman live on air this morning is dead after apparently shooting himself in Fauquier County.
Vester Flanagan, 41, known on air as Bryce Williams, was spotted by Virginia State Police headed eastbound on Interstate 66 around 11:30 a.m. A chase ensued, after the suspect vehicle ran off the road and crashed, ttroopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound.
Flanagan was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, where he reportedly died around 1:30 p.m.
At around 6:45 a.m., Flanagan shot two and killed WDBJ employees, Alison Parker, 24, a James Madison University graduate, and Adam Ward, 27, a Virginia Tech graduate, during a live shot at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The shooting happened during a live interview of Vicki Gardner, the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, who was also shot and is recovering after surgery.
A Twitter account apparently belonging to Flanagan that has since been taken down included a screen shot of a video that appears to show Parker, Ward and Gardner moments before the shooting, then references that a video of the shooting had been posted to Facebook.
The Twitter and Facebook accounts have since been taken down.
WDBJ General Manager Jeffrey Marks told CNN that Flanagan had been terminated from the station more than two years ago. The social media accounts, before they were taken down, referenced an EEOC complaint that he had filed against the station, and claimed that Ward had filed an HR complaint against him during their time working together.
Marks said Flanagan, who worked at the station from March 2012 to February 2013, was dismissed after he “quickly became known for a reputation for being difficult to work with.” Flanagan was known among colleagues for “looking out for people to say things that he would take offense to,” Marks said
Flanagan had also previously sued another former TV station employer, WTWC in Tallahassee, Fla., in 2000, alleging racial discrimination. That case was settled, but details of the settlement were not available.
Parker had been employed at the station for a year, Marks said. According to her bio on the station website, she was a native of Martinsville, Va., and had been an intern at the station before working a stint at WCTI in Jacksonville, N.C. She was a December 2012 graduate of JMU, and had worked as a producer during her time there on newscasts at WHSV and as a news editor on the JMU student newspaper, The Breeze.
Parker was in a relationship with WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst, who tweeted that he and Parker were planning to get married.
“She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother,” Hurst tweeted.
Ward, a 2011 graduate of Virginia Tech, was also engaged to a co-worker, Melissa Ott, a producer on the morning show who witnessed the shooting on air. Ott was celebrating her last day working at the station after taking another TV producer job.
– Story by Chris Graham