‘Human Powder Keg’: ‘Suicide Note’ Claims Discrimination Fueled Live TV Attack

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Fired reporter kills 2 former co-workers on live TV.

When Dylann Roof gunned down nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church in June, investigators later discovered a racist manifesto posted online. MONETA, Va. (AP) — A TV reporter and cameraman were shot to death on live television Wednesday by their former colleague, a journalist who also recorded himself carrying out the killings and then posted the video on social media.

The 41-year-old suspected shooter, identified as Vester Lee Flanagan II, was believed to be a disgruntled former employee of the TV station, say police. After Mark Lavoie shot and killed his wife in a New Hampshire hospital bed in January, then turned the gun on himself, police found a Facebook post in which Lavoie warned of his actions.

After the shooting Flanagan sent out a series of tweets alleging that Alison had been racist towards him in the past and that Adam had previously complained about him to HR. That’s usually how it goes — authorities are left to comb the Internet for clues about a suspect’s motive after a tragic event has already unfolded.

Mr Marks described him as ‘an unhappy man’ and ‘difficult to work with’, always ‘looking out for people to say things he could take offence to’. Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and videographer Adam Ward, 27, were in the middle of doing a live interview at Bridgewater Plaza for WDBJ when they were shot dead around 6:45 a.m. They say Williams filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOCC) against Ms Parker, and that Mr Ward had reported Williams to human resources. Vicki Gardner, the head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was being interviewed by Parker at the time about a local tourism story. The shooting set off an intense manhunt that ended hours later when the suspect shot himself in a rented car as police closed in, Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton said.

Mr Marks said Williams alleged that other employees made racially tinged comments to him, but said his EEOC claim was dismissed and none of his allegations could be corroborated. Flanagan, who used the on-air name Bryce Williams while working for WDBJ, posted video on his Facebook page showing the shooting from the perspective of the shooter.

In another, he claimed that “Adam went to hr on me after working with me one time!!!” Twitter and Facebook suspended Flanagan’s accounts, but not before the video and messages were widely viewed and republished elsewhere on the Internet. WDBJ quickly switched back to the anchor at the station, her eyes large and jaw dropping as she said, ‘‘OK, not sure what happened there.’’ The station later went live again, reporting on their own staff as the story developed.

The station’s live broadcast showed Parker interviewing Gardner at the Bridgewater Plaza shopping center when, just off camera, shots rang out and Parker was heard screaming. A first-person video of the shooting posted on a Twitter account labeled @bryce_williams7 showed an arm holding a gun and firing several shots at Parker as she tried to run away.

The three, in the midst of a live TV interview, do not seem to notice the gunman, who doesn’t start shooting until Ward points the camera at Parker. We employed him as a reporter and he had some talent in that respect and some experience, though he had been out of the business for a while when he was hired here. Hurst wrote online that they hadn’t shared their relationship publicly but ‘‘were very much in love.’’ He said they had just moved in together and wanted to get married. ‘‘I am numb,’’ he said. Parker was raised in the Martinsville, Virginia, area and joined the station as an intern after attending James Madison University, where she was the editor of the school’s newspaper, The Breeze. ‘‘Adam was our go-to guy.

He pretty much was available to do anything that we asked,’’ said WDBJ spokesman Mike Morgan. ‘‘He did live shots during our morning show for several years.’’ Tweets posted on Williams’ Twitter account Wednesday described workplace conflicts with both victims. She said Wednesday that “he didn’t laugh at our jokes or at himself when he would make a mistake.” Wilmoth describes Flanagan as a loner who didn’t socialize with other reporters. The station generally denied the allegations of discrimination and said it had legitimate reasons for ending Flanagan’s employment, including poor performance, misbehavior with regard to co-workers, refusal to follow directions, use of profanity and budgetary reasons. (TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries.

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