TV reporter’s father pledges full-scale fight for tougher gun control laws

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Survivor’s husband recounts story before gunfire erupted.

Reporter Alison Parker (24) and cameraman Adam Ward (27), who both worked for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, died of gunshot wounds to the head and body, according to the city’s medical examiner’s office. ROANOKE, Va. (AP) – The chamber of commerce official who was answering questions about her community on live TV when gunfire erupted said she never saw the gunman walk up to the group.WDBJ sent a news crew to a high school football game Friday night, the first live event the station has covered since a reporter and cameraman were shot to death on the air Wednesday morning.The killing of two journalists live on air in Virginia on Wednesday was a crime for these social media times when everyone is their own broadcaster and images of murder can be shared online with the swipe of a thumb. The gunman, Vester Flanagan, who used to work as a reporter for the station under the name Bryce Williams, killed his two former colleagues on Wednesday during a live broadcast Flanagan’s former boss said he constantly saw himself as the target in his conflicts with WDBJ-TV colleagues and described him as a “professional victim”.

The station’s former news director, Dan Dennison, said: “He was victimised 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.” On the day he was fired in 2013, Flanagan pressed a wooden cross into Mr Dennison’s hand and said “you’ll need this” as two police officers escorted him out. Flanagan, 41, a former WDBJ reporter fired in February 2013, fatally shot himself a few hours later, after police caught up with his rented get-away car.

She and the cameraman carrying out a live interview for the local Roanoke television station WDBJ7, 27-year-old Adam Ward, are unaware of their disgruntled former colleague who is about to end their lives in a blizzard of 15 shots. Mr Shafer, who is now news director with XETV in San Diego, recalled Flanagan as a good reporter and a “clever, funny guy”, but said that he also had conflicts with co-workers “to the point where he was threatening people”. Their murders had two camera angles – the killer’s own first-person video and the live shot from Ward’s camera, which captured the image of the gunman after he fell. The first four shots were aimed at Parker, and two more were aimed at Ward, Gardner’s husband Tim said in a telephone interview from the hospital where she is recovering. Inside his car, which he crashed during the pursuit, police found two Glocks, six magazines, a to-do list and 17 stamped letters, according to a Virginia State Police search warrant released late on Thursday.

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 the employees’ behaviour. “How heartless can you be? The sheriff’s office in Franklin County, where the murders took place at a lakeside resort outside Roanoke, said it appeared Flanagan acted alone and told nobody about his murderous plans. [Flanagan] closely identified with individuals who have committed domestic acts of violence and mass murder, as well as the September 11, 2001 attacks. In an age of few filters, many didn’t have to look for it or have the opportunity to choose not to watch Flanagan’s macabre statement: videos play automatically as soon they pop into your social-media feed.

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. Those who had the choice were urged not to click, not to give him what he wanted: attention and misplaced vengeance in a very public way. “He wanted to kill and make you watch it,” wrote blogger Joshua Rogers. “Resist him in the only way he can be resisted at this point.” The video can be easily found online. Other details from the release: Investigators recovered two handguns, both Glocks, from the rental vehicle Flanagan crashed on I-66 in Fauquier County before killing himself. The double killing renewed debate about gun control in the United States, where citizens’ right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the constitution.

They do not include gun shows, private sales and online transactions. “If you go to a gun show, there are big signs in certain booths that say, ‘come buy your gun here — we don’t do background checks here’,” Mr McAuliffe said. President Barack Obama pushed for broader firearm background checks in the wake of the December 2012 massacre of 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Flanagan, unable for more than a decade to hold down a job for any meaningful time, has recorded a piece of television news that will live long after him or anything he recorded during his unhappy time in broadcasting. In Minnesota, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton called for tougher gun laws, saying the Virginia bloodshed revealed that “something is deeply wrong” in America. Video later posted to social media sites belonging to Flanagan shows the gunman approaching Parker and photographer Ward as the reporter conducted a routine interview for a local story.

While he appeared to have mental issues, he had no criminal record so he easily passed a background check when he bought two Glock 9mm handguns from a federally licensed dealer. Flanagan knew exactly what he was doing when he set out to kill his former colleagues and the media, both social and news, has followed through on exactly what he thought they would do: give him the attention he craved and an audience for his grievances. Flanagan in a 23-page manifesto-cum-suicide note faxed to the headquarters of ABC News in New York praised the Virginia Tech mass killer Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at the university in 2007 and Columbine High School, killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who murdered 12 students and a teacher. “I was influenced by Seung- Hui Cho,” wrote Flanagan. “That’s my boy right there. Harris and Klebold taped themselves bragging about killing the greatest number of people in a mass shooting and speculating whether Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino would direct the film of their killings.

The warning signs about Flanagan stretch back at least as far as 2000, 12 years before he was hired at — and fired from — WDBJ, the Roanoke TV station where Parker and Ward worked. The station said it was for “poor performance,” “misbehavior with regards to co-workers” and his “use of profanity on the premises.” Flanagan alleged a producer called him a “monkey,” and because he complained, the station retaliated. “He was very angry and troubled by a lot of things that had happened to him at work,” said Marie Mattox, the attorney who represented him in a suit he filed against the station. “And I was concerned about just his mental status and whether he needed counseling.” • Flanagan bounced around to a number of news stations, landing at WDBJ in Virginia in 2012. There, his records listed run-ins with co-workers and said he was a poor performer, leading his bosses to refer him to the company’s employee assistance program. “We made it mandatory that he seek help from our employee assistance program. Before police walked him out of the building, Flanagan handed his manager a small wooden cross and said, “You’ll need this.” • Earlier this summer, Flanagan was involved in a road rage incident.

Brandon Foster posted a video of the July 6 encounter on YouTube after Wednesday’s shooting. “I called this man out at a red light for driving like a maniac,” Foster said. “He then followed me to my destination, driving recklessly, and stopping traffic to continue the argument.” There was no violence, and no charges were filed. • After the shooting Wednesday, Flanagan sent a disjointed 23-page fax to ABC News chronicling what be perceived as grievances dating back to first grade. He cited seemingly innocuous comments as discriminatory, such as “an intern asking where I would ‘swing by’ for lunch.” “The average person would not perceive those everyday comments as insulting or injustices,” said Mary Ellen O’Toole, a former FBI profiler. “But clearly, he does. McLaughlin, Ben Brumfield, Ryan Nobles, Pamela Brown, Jason Hanna, Ashley Fantz, Carol Costello, Brian Stelter, Mariano Castillo, Drew Griffin and Patricia DiCarlo contributed to this report.

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site