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Officials say TV killings suspect died at hospital

7 years 5 months 1 week ago Wednesday, August 26 2015 Aug 26, 2015 August 26, 2015 1:18 PM August 26, 2015 in News
Source: Associated Press / WBRZ

MONETA, Va. - Authorities in Virginia said the disgruntled TV station employee who is believed to have shot and killed two of his former co-workers Wednesday morning has died.

Officials said 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II of Roanoke shot himself while police were pursuing him after the shootings of two WDBJ-TV journalists. Police said Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams on air, was still alive when he crashed and was taken to a hospital, but later died.

Police said Flanagan shot and killed reporter Allison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, during a live interview Wednesday morning at a shopping center. A third person, Vicki Gardner, was being interviewed and also injured in the shooting but survived. 

 A Twitter account claiming to be Bryce Williams made several posts about the shooting while police said they were pursuing the suspect, including videos shot from a first-person perspective which showed the shooting take place. The account also claimed Parker made racist comments about Williams, and Ward went to human resources to make a complaint about him. Twitter and Facebook suspended his accounts shortly after the videos were posted.

ABC News also released a statement that they received a fax overnight from someone who claimed to be Bryce Williams. ABC said they turned the 23-page fax over to the authorities.

ABC News reports that inside the 23-page manifesto, the writer said that shooting Wednesday was motivated by the Charleston church shooting in June.

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them," ABC News reported the manifesto said.

The writer continued, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” 

The ABC report also says the writer expressed admiration towards the Columbine High School shooters and called the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho,  “his boy.” 

“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!!!!” the manifesto said. 

During WDBJ's noon news broadcast, general manager Jeffrey Marks spoke briefly about the shooting and Flanagan. He said Flanagan was hired a few years ago after spending time away from the news business, and that he had a reputation of being difficult to work with and being on the lookout for people to say things he could take offense to.

"Eventually, after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. He did not take that well," Marks said.

Marks confirmed Flanagan had claimed other employees made racially-tinged comments at him and that he filed an EEOC complaint. Marks said those claims could not be corroborated, and were later dismissed.

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