"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
Disgruntled former WDBJ7 employee, 41 year old Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known by his broadcast name Bryce Williams, from the San Francisco Bay area is the man accused of shooting and killing fellow WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24 and cameraman Adam Ward, 27 on live television early Wednesday morning.
The shooting occurred around 6:45 am, in Moneta, Virginia, close to Roanoke while Parker and Ward were broadcasting a live interview with an official from the local chamber of commerce. It appeared that Flanagan purposely orchestrated the attacks so that their deaths would be aired on live television.
The woman being interviewed, Vicki Gardner, the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake regional chamber of commerce was also shot but she survived her attack.
After a four hour manhunt, Flanagan’s vehicle was spotted on Interstate 66 in Fauquier County by a state trooper, nearly 200 miles away from where the shooting took place in Moneta. After a short chase, Flanagan shot himself and died a few hours later at the hospital.
Flanagan who was fired from WDBJ7 earlier this year claimed he was a victim of homophobia and racism in the work place and that he was being attacked because he was a gay, black man. He detailed his feelings in a 23 page document he faxed to ABC News shortly after the shootings under his pseudonym Bryce Williams titled “A Suicide Note to Friends and Family.”
The document stated that his attack on his former coworkers was revenge for the Charleston, South Carolina church shootings that happened this past June. These shootings were executed by 21 year old Dylann Roof. Roof went into a black sanctuary and massacred nine African Americans. Flanagan claimed that this attack is what pushed him over the edge and he bought a gun two days after the shootings.
Whatever Flanagan’s feelings were, it does not justify his actions. This was a horrible crime that played out on camera for the world to see. After this fatal shooting occurred and was caught on tape, the White House renewed its call for gun control.