Troubling video (not bloody, but shocking)
Unbelievable shooting on live TV in the Roanoke area this morning. Prayers to my friends at WDBJ7. pic.twitter.com/q8ob9mI8VL
— Jacob Wycoff (@4cast4you) August 26, 2015
Both the reporter and the cameraman are dead.
During an interview on CNN, General Manager Jeffrey Marks confirmed that today was Parker’s last day with the station. Marks also said that Ward’s fiancee Melissa Ott was in the control room during the broadcast, and saw the shooting happen live. From the video shot by the cameraman (as he died), a frame may have caught the shooter.
This all happened at 7:45 a.m. today during a live interview in the town of Moneta, Virginia. A manhunt for the shooter is on. Let me state the obvious before everyone else does:
(1) Yes, the only reason this is “news” is because it happened on TV. But double murders happen all the time.
(2) Yes, the victims are white, although honestly, when black people are shot and it is recorded, we pay attention then as well.
(3) This would be a good time for the candidates to speak up about gun control. Watch the GOP candidates say instead that this is a time for “prayers” so that they never have to address gun control.
UPDATE 10:25 a.m. — Shooter is apparently a disgruntled employee of the TV station.
UPDATE 10:40 a.m. — Suspect identified as Vester Lee Flanigan (or Lester Lee Flanigan?), a light-skinned black man, who is about 6’3″, 250lbs and driving a gray 2009 Ford Mustang with Virginia license plates WZE-8846. Police are in pursuit on Interstate 81 In a related story, of local interest, the second guy in the local (Rockingham County NC) manhunt was caught last night. So that happened.
UPDATE 11:25 a.m. Ugh. This story gets worse and worse. The shooter (Flanigan) goes by the name of Bryce Williams. He was a reporter at the station. And he started sharing video of the shooting (from his vantage point) on his Twitter account (which has been shut down) and Facebook page (also shut down). The video is very graphic and people are very good about not posting (or viewing it). I’ve seen it, but I won’t post or link to it. You can see him walk up to her and draw his gun and aim it at her (image below). Nobody notices. He puts the gun down and steps back a step or two. Another 3 or 4 seconds pass. Suddenly he lifts the gun and fires. Alison Parker is seen running off. The screen goes black and you hear more shots. You don’t actually see anyone get hit, but it is startling.
And more about the shooter now….
Sick to my stomach. Worked with Flanagan at WTWC. Bad actor then, always the victim who once sued the station. What an awful day. — Kevin Christopher (@KChristopher18) August 26, 2015
BREAKING: Local Media outlets reporting Virginia shooter has killed himself.
— Kevin Christopher (@KChristopher18) August 26, 2015
UPDATE 11:55 a.m. – Not dead, but in critical condition.
UPDATE 2:00 p.m. – Okay. Now confirmed dead.
In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II.” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:
“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”
“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”
It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.
Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harrisand Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'”
In an often rambling letter to the authorities, and family and friends, he writes of a long list of grievances. In one part of the document, Williams calls it a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family.”
–He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work
–He says he has been attacked by black men and white females
–He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man
“Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”
“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!!!!”