In coverage of Roanoke killings, the right sees a racial media bias

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A look inside Vester Flanagan’s apartment: Cat urine on the floor, a shrine to himself on the fridge.

The lone escapee from the attack that left a Virginia television reporter and cameraman dead made her silent entreaties while lying on the ground as the killer continued shooting. Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was being interviewed by Parker at the time of the incident, but miraculously survived the incident.For the two years after he was fired from the WDBJ-TV news network, the killer of journalists Alice Parker and Adam Ward lingered in Roanoke, living a disturbed existence in a dank and squalid home just a few hundred yards from the company’s headquarters.

— Vester Flanagan constantly saw himself as the target in his conflicts with WDBJ-TV colleagues, leading his former boss to describe him as a “professional victim.” “He was victimized by everything and everyone and could never quite grasp the fact that he was the common denominator in all of these really sometimes serious interpersonal conflicts that he had with people,” said Dan Dennison, the former news director at WDBJ in Virginia. Vicki’s husband Tim Gardner has revealed she saved herself by curling up into a ball as the gunman blasted her leading to her losing a kidney and part of her colon. Neighbours described Flanagan, who had claimed he was discriminated against by his employers for being black and gay, as being erratically aggressive towards men. “He was really nice to the girls,” said one source. “But he had a problem with the male neighbours.

The medical examiner’s office in Roanoke office said Friday that WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker’s official cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head and chest. In an interview on US television Mr Gardner said madman Vester Lee Flanagan II turned the gun on his tourism executive wife Vicki after shooting reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward.

He would just throw cat sh– into their balconies.” Fearing the front door might be booby-trapped, police wore bomb disposal vests and used a long ladder to reach the third floor apartment from the balcony when they raided the home in the hours after Flanagan murdered his colleagues live on television. And he said medics warned him his wife is lucky she will be able to walk out of hospital after the bullets fired by the lone attacker almost let to her total paralysis. “I don’t think she ever felt like she was in danger after she got up and walked to the ambulance after being shot, but she didn’t know the extent of her injuries at that point, but the surgeon told me that a couple of centimeters and she wouldn’t be walking and a couple of centimeters more and she wouldn’t be alive.” Don Shafer, who had previously worked with Flanagan at WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1999, said he had previously had a number of conflicts with co-workers. The door of his fridge is covered in photographs showing Flanagan on television during his time as a reporter at the WDBJ news network: an apparent shrine to a bygone era of which he could not let go. Photographs from inside the apartment show the computer, mounted on a stand in the corner of the living room, on which Flanagan is believed to have written the crazed and rambling suicide note he sent to ABC news.

He praised mass killers, including the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech university shooting, the single deadliest attack by a lone shooter in America in which 32 people were killed. Details on the double murder were released Friday by the Virginia Medical Examiner, two days after Parker and Ward were gunned down by Flanagan — who was fired two years earlier from WDBJ-TV.

The 50 or so workers have been described as a close-knit group, and they have continued reporting on their slain colleagues in the face of the tragedy. A coffee shop at the plaza where two journalists were killed during a live broadcast was the shopping centre’s first business to reopen its doors after the murders. In the days before the murder, he disposed of “personal documents” and other effects in bins in the surrounding area, a source with knowledge of the investigation told The Daily Telegraph. He talked about his support for universal background checks for gun purchases and said “there are too many guns in America and there are clearly too many guns in the wrong hands.” But McAuliffe, himself a gun owner, also said Flanagan had passed a background check.

A former co-worker at a UnitedHealthcare call center where Flanagan worked until late 2014 said he tried to grab her shoulder and told her never to speak to him again after she offhandedly said he was unusually quiet. The manager of a bar in Roanoke said Flanagan was so incensed when no one thanked him for his business as he left the tavern that he sent a nearly 20-page letter, lambasting employees’ behavior. “How heartless can you be? My entire life was disrupted after moving clear across the country for a job only to have my dream turn into a nightmare,” Flanagan wrote in a letter to a judge filed as part of his 2013 lawsuit against WDBJ-TV. “Your Honor, I am not the monster here.” The lawsuit was dismissed in July 2014. He contacted ABC News about what he claimed was a story tip and filled his Facebook page with photos and video montages seemingly designed to introduce himself to a larger audience.

Inside his rental car, investigators found extra license plates, a wig, shawl, sunglasses and a hat as well as some stamped letters and a “to do” list. On Thursday, the station’s general manager, Jeffrey Marks, recalled a series of problems with Flanagan while he worked at WDBJ from March 2012 to February 2013. The shopping centre is right on the lake, and DiGiorgi noted that Gardner, who was shot in the back and is in good condition at a hospital, works nearby.

Heather Fay, general manager of Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint in downtown Roanoke, said she threw out a lengthy letter Flanagan had sent, criticizing the staff for telling customers to “have a nice day” instead of “thank you.” Flanagan’s interpersonal conflicts were at odds with the outgoing student some recalled in Oakland, California, where he was chosen junior prince at Skyline High School’s homecoming. At San Francisco State University, Flanagan relished being in the spotlight during group presentations. “He was such a nice guy, just a soft-spoken, well-dressed, good-looking guy. Associated Press reporters Matthew Barakat, Jonathan Drew, Alan Suderman, John Raby and David Dishneau in Roanoke, Virginia; Larry O’Dell in Richmond, Virginia; Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu; Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Mississippi; Terry Chea in Vallejo, California; Garance Burke in Oakland, California; Julie Watson in San Diego and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this story.

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