Everything we know about alleged Virginia shooter Vester Lee Flanagan


Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of Virginia TV station WDBJ who went by the name Bryce Williams, is the alleged shooter who killed reporter Alison Parker, 24, and camera man Adam Ward, 27, on live TV early Wednesday.

After faxing a rambling, 23-page letter to ABC News, posting videos of himself shooting Parker and Ward on Twitter, and driving 200 miles on the interstate, Flanagan reportedly shot himself. He was brought to a hospital in critical condition and died on Wednesday afternoon, police said.

Flanagan was dismissed from the station two years ago, WDBJ president and general manager Jeffrey A. Marks confirmed to ABC News. He was “an unhappy man” and “quickly became known for a reputation for being difficult to work with,” Marks said.

In the manifesto he sent to ABC after the shooting, Flanagan says he bought a gun two days after a white man killed nine black people at a Charleston, S.C. church earlier this summer. “What sent me over the top was the church shooting,” he wrote, adding, “You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!”

The letter also includes notes about Flanagan’s admiration for other mass shooters and his anger at facing discrimination as a gay, black man. “I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!” he wrote.

Along with the disturbing videos of the shooting, Flanagan posted tweets accusing “Alison” of racism. Flanagan also said “Adam” reported him to human resources. His account has been taken offline.

Jeffrey Marks, WDBJ’s president and general manager, told the New York Times that Flanagan had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the station alleging that employees had made racist comments. “We think they were fabricated,” Marks said of the supposed comments.

According to his Linkedin page, which has also since been removed, Flanagan worked as a reporter at WDBJ between March 2012 and February 2013. He had previously worked at TV stations in California, Texas, Florida, and Virginia, and in other customer service jobs. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University.

For his most recent employment, Flanagan posted “:-)”

Here’s his demo reel, which shows him reporting on stories and, briefly, singing. He covered a variety of local stories, from robberies to traffic accidents to sports results:

In 2000, Flanagan sued a former employer, WTWC-TV in Florida, for employment discrimination, according to court files. Flanagan, who is black, alleged that he was called a “monkey” by a producer, and that another supervisor said that “blacks are lazy and take advantage of free money.”

After Flanagan filed an EEOC report about that station in 1999, his contract was not renewed, he said in his lawsuit. The case was settled in early 2001; it’s not clear what settlement was reached.

Heather Myers, a San Diego TV anchor, tweeted that her former TV station in Florida had fired Flanagan for “bizarre behavior and threatening employees.” It’s not clear whether she was referring to WTWC.

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Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.

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