Alleged Virginia gunman posted video of shooting on social media

Aug 26, 2015 1:11 PM by News Staff

The alleged gunman who shot a television reporter and cameraman to death on live television posted a graphic video of the shooting on Twitter and Facebook Wednesday along with comments suggesting he was angry with the victims.

Reporter Alison Parker of CBS affiliate WDBJ was interviewing Vicki Gardner, an economic development official, about local tourism as shots rang out, apparently first hitting cameraman Adam Ward. Then she screamed, ran and could be heard saying "Oh my God," as she too was shot.

WDBJ said that suspect, 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II, is a former employee who appeared on air at the station as Bryce Williams. He posted the chilling video on his Twitter account, along with several messages.

The video showed an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Parker as she tried to run away. The shooter appeared to walk up to the victims and stand a few feet away from them while holding the weapon.

The three, in the midst of a live TV interview, do not seem to notice the gunman, who doesn't start shooting until Ward points the camera at Parker and Gardner.

Parker is heard screaming and is seen running away as shots are fired. Roughly 15 shots can be heard, including several that were fired after the video goes dark.

"Alison made racist comments," Williams wrote on Twitter. "EEOC report filed."

Another post makes an apparent reference to Ward: "Adam went to hr on me after working with me one time!!!"

The dying cameraman managed to record a glimpse of the shooter, who fled with police in hot pursuit.

The station quickly switched back to a shot of the anchor back at the station, her eyes large and jaw dropping as she said, "OK, not sure what happened there. We will of course let you know as soon as we find out what those sounds were from."

The suspect later shot and injured himself on Interstate 66 in Faquier County,WDBJ reported. Police said that shortly before 11:30 a.m., they initiated a traffic stop on I-66 but the driver refused to stop and sped away from the trooper. The driver then off the road and crashed. Police said the troopers approached and found the driver suffering from a gunshot wound, and he is being taken to a hospital.

ABC News reported on its website that the network received a 23-page fax from someone claiming to be Bryce Williams. The network said the fax was turned over to authorities, and did not elaborate on its contents.

According to court documents, Flanagan sued TV station WTWC in Florida in 2000 for racial discrimination for $15,000, alleging that he was called a "monkey" by a producer and was once instructed by a coworker to "stop talking Ebonics."

According to court filings, the case was settled in January 2001.

The shooting happened around 6:45 a.m. at Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County, as Parker interviewed Gardner about the upcoming 50th anniversary festivities for Smith Mountain Lake, a local tourism destination. Gardner was wounded and is in stable condition, according to Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital.

Both the shooting victims were romantically involved with other employees at the station, according to Parker's boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.

Parker had just turned 24. She had just completed a special report on child abuse at the station, where she had worked as an intern. She attended James Madison University, where she was the editor of the school's newspaper, The Breeze. According to her Facebook page, Parker spent most of her life outside Martinsville, Virginia. She was an avid kayaker and attended community theater events in her spare time.

Hurst said they hadn't shared their relationship publicly but "were very much in love." He said they had just moved in together and wanted to get married. "I am numb," he said.

Ward, 27, graduated from Virginia Tech University and was engaged to a producer at the station, Melissa Ott, said WDBJ spokesman Mike Morgan.

"Adam was our go-to guy. He pretty much was available to do anything that we asked," Morgan said. "He did live shots during our morning show for several years."

The station is based in Roanoke, Virginia, and serves the southwest and central part of the state. The shopping mall where the incident happened is just off Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, about 25 miles southeast of Roanoke.


Most Popular