Slain Virginia Reporter’s Dad Vows to Push for Tougher Gun Screenings

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Former broadcaster in TV shooting was a volatile, angry man.

He was a fired television reporter with a history of conflicts at work and his rage apparently stoked by racial grievances, from the Charleston church shooting to his claims that he faced discrimination.The boyfriend of a reporter killed in an on-air shooting appeared at the station where both worked on Thursday, telling his co-workers and viewers that he wants to tell his girlfriend’s story even as he grieves. And when he sought revenge Wednesday, gunning down two employees from his former station, he used the tools of an oversharing age, ensuring his crime was broadcast live, video recorded from multiple angles and posted on social media.

But after a volatile career that had seen him fired at least twice for clashing with coworkers who recall him as an off-kilter loner, this would be the former broadcaster’s last, brutal sign-off. “I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!” Flanagan wrote in a rambling 23-page note faxed to ABC News soon after the shooting. Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, identified by the authorities as the gunman, waited until Alison Parker and Adam Ward, young journalists at WDBJ in Roanoke, were on air, then killed them while recording on his own video camera. The news became personal for the CBS affiliate in Virginia when the two were fatally shot during a live broadcast Wednesday morning by a disgruntled former colleague. Station anchor Chris Hurst, Parker’s boyfriend, recalled on air how Parker’s voice could light up a room with its kindness and joy, and how excited she was about her work, including an upcoming piece on hospice care. “Alison, what great things she could have done,” Hurst said, adding that he will take a brief break from his anchor role.

Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were killed, according to their TV station, WDBJ of Roanoke, while the person they were interviewing, Vicki Gardner, was wounded and was later in stable condition after surgery. He listed grievances dating to the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech and the more recent massacre of worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Flanagan was fired from Roanoke, Virginia, station WDBJ in 2013, he had to be escorted from the building by police “because he was not going to leave willingly or under his own free will,” the station’s former news director, Dan Dennison, said in an interview with a Hawaii station, Hawaii News Now (KHNL/KGMB).

Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, who worked with Flanagan at the Florida station, recalled him as “off-kilter” and someone who “never really made himself part of the team.” Wilmoth recalled an incident when workers meant to tease Flanagan for a story he did on a spelling bee that made it sound as if the winner would get a case of Girl Scouts, rather than Girl Scout cookies. “The next day, somebody had a Girl Scout emblem on their desk and we made some copies of it and taped them to his computer,” she said. “If he had only laughed, we would have all been friends forever. In Roanoke, the nation’s 67th largest media market, Parker and Ward were also something else: hometown kids who became local celebrities. “They grew up in this area,” Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton said. “They were part of our community.” Parker was a highly motivated reporter who was perhaps destined to be a network anchor. You don’t find that every day,” said Ashley Talley, who was assistant news director at WCTI-TV in New Bern, North Carolina, when she hired Parker right out of college. A former coworker at the California station, Barbara Rodgers, recalled him vaguely as “a young, eager kid out of journalism school,” who “just wanted to be on TV and to do a good job.” Working in Georgia years ago, Flanagan was “tall, good looking and seemed to be really nice, personable and funny,” said a former fellow reporter, Angela Williams-Gebhardt, who now lives in Ohio.

Police officers followed Flanagan, driving a rental car, and troopers tried to pull him over shortly before 11:30 a.m. in northern Virginia’s Fauquier County, but he sped away and crashed.

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site