News on the live broadcast shooting in Roanoke, Va., is still breaking by the moment. Yet as of press time, what is known is that two journalists with WDBJ television in southwest Virginia are dead, a member of the local chamber of commerce is shot in the back, and the apparent gunman was a former TV station employee who claimed racism was behind his recent dismissal.
As reported by Fox10 of Mobile, Ala., and also by Britain’s The Guardian and the Daily Mail, all on Aug. 26, 2015, field reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, died at the scene while covering economic growth in at scenic Smith Mountain Lake developments. As the duo was interviewing Vicki Gardner, head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, shots were heard from someone off camera.
As cameraman Parker was hit, the camera fell, capturing the image of the apparent shooter for just a few quick frames. Meanwhile, in the background, the screams of shock and pain from Parker and Gardner were heard loud and clear. Still unsure which of the two women it was, one was heard crying “Oh, my God!”
Gardner was shot in the back, and has since been rushed to emergency surgery for at the critical injuries. Fox10 has since reported that Gardner is now out of surgery and listen in critical but stable condition.
With specifics as of the moment still shaky and sometimes contradictory, it’s being reported that the apparent shooter was recently fired reporter with the legal name of Vester L. Flanagan, but used the on-air name of Bryce Williams. The Guardian published a series of Tweets sent out by Flanagan under his on-air name of Bryce Williams, regarding his allegations of racism while employed at WDBJ.
Initially, Flanagan sent “Alison [Parker] made racist comments” which was quickly followed by “EEOC report filed”. Apparently enraged at WDBJ hiring Parker as a field reporter, he also tweeted, “they hired her after that???” which was also quickly followed up with “Adam [Parker] went to hr [Human Resources] on me after working with me one time!!!”
The most damning tweet was when he then sent out “I filmed the shooting see Facebook”. In fact, his Facebook site did have a camera phone video posted that he filmed of him perpetrating the shooting of the three. It’s understood by the media that his weapon was in his right hand, camera phone in his left. Facebook has since shut down his account.
Flanagan, who is black, has quite a history of blaming his professional woes on racism. Fox10 reported;
- Court records indicate Flanagan filed a lawsuit against WDBJ in March 2014. One of the victims of today’s shooting, Ward, was served a subpoena as a witness in the case, which was ultimately dismissed.
- In 2000, he filed a discrimination lawsuit against another employers, WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, FL. That case was closed in 2001.
Breitbart.com is also reporting that when fired two years ago by WDBJ, Williams was less than objective and in control;
- CNN is reporting that when the television station fired the suspect, they were so worried about his behavior, they had everyone clear the room as the suspect cleaned out his desk. This was two years ago.
- WDBJ reports that the suspect was a disgruntled employee. When let go, he was escorted out of the building by police. While an employee, he committed a number of outbursts and filed the EEOC complaint.