TV Journalists’ Murderer Kills Himself

The two journalists killed, Alison Parker (L) and Adam Ward (R).
The two journalists killed, Alison Parker (L) and Adam Ward (R).

A man who shot two journalists on live TV in the US state of Virginia has died after shooting himself, police say.

Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, an ex-employee of WDBJ7 TV known professionally as Bryce Williams, was in a car that was surrounded by police following a chase.

WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed some seven hours earlier during an interview in the town of Moneta.

The gunman later uploaded a video of himself opening fire at close range.

The White House has urged Congress to rapidly pass gun control laws in the wake of this latest shooting in the US.

Virginia State Police said the suspect’s vehicle had been spotted on the Interstate 66 highway following the shooting, and crashed off the road after being pursued by officers.

“Troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the force said in a statement.

He later died in hospital, a police spokesman said.

The Twitter account of Flanagan suggested he had held a grudge against Mr Ward, 27, and Ms Parker, 24.

Police said his utterances on social media the previous evening suggested the attack was pre-planned.

ABC News has meanwhile revealed that it received a 23-page fax, apparently sent by Flanagan on Wednesday morning, in which he claimed his anger had been “building steadily”.

The fax said the attack was intended to avenge the Charleston shootings earlier this year – a suspected hate crime in which a white gunman killed nine parishioners at an African-American church.

The rambling fax also complained of racial discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace, and professed admiration for the perpetrators of gun massacres at a US school and university.

The attack on the journalists took place at a large shopping centre, Bridgewater Plaza, near Smith Mountain Lake.

Ms Parker was starting a breakfast TV interview about tourism at the shopping centre when suddenly shots rang out, the camera spun and dropped to the ground, and her screams could be heard.

The footage then captured what appeared to be a fleeting image of the gunman, who was wearing black trousers and a blue top – and holding a handgun.

The woman who was being interviewed, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, survived the attack and is in a stable condition in hospital following surgery.

Bryce Williams’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, which have now been suspended, subsequently showed video shot by the gunman.

They showed him raising a handgun, training it on the trio, and opening fire 14 times. The TV station’s own footage of the attack recorded only eight of the shots.

Staff at the TV station, which continued broadcasting after the live report, expressed shock and sadness at the loss of their colleagues.

“Alison and Adam died this morning at 06:45 shortly after the shots rang out,” the station’s president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, announced on air.

“I cannot tell you how much they were loved by the WDBJ7 team… our hearts are broken.”

He described the suspected killer as “an unhappy man” who was “difficult to work with” and had to be escorted from the TV station by police officers when he was finally dismissed.

A complaint filed against the station with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the suspect had been dismissed, Mr Marks added.

WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst revealed that he and Ms Parker had been in a relationship and had planned to marry.

Source: BBC

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