Virginia Shooter’s Alleged History of Problems at Former TV Station

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Documents Show Vester Lee Flanagan’s Turbulent Tenure at TV Station Before Virginia Shooting.

“What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism,” he said.When video of the on-air shooting of a Virginia news reporter and cameraman spread within minutes across the country — with the killer even posting his own footage online — they became the latest exhibits in a moral and ethical drama that is playing out in blood at newspapers and TV stations and on social media.MONETA, Va. (AP/CBS4) – He planned it all so carefully – a choreographed execution of two former colleagues, broadcast live to a horrified television audience.The gunman who shot dead a female reporter and a cameraman on live television appears to have carefully planned the attack to maximise mass media coverage.

A deranged gunman, holding a smartphone to film as he shot and killed two young Roanoke, Virginia journalists on Wednesday as they conducted an on-air interview. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Thomas Faison said Vester Lee Flanagan legally bought the gun used to kill Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Flanagan’s arrival at WDBJ, a television station in Roanoke, Va., station executives and rank-and-file employees were deeply concerned about his conduct.

After the shooting, ex-journalist Flanagan uploaded chilling first-person video to Twitter and Facebook showing him walking up to the crew and pointing a gun at Parker before firing. The two journalists were broadcasting the live report for WDBJ7, a station based in Roanoke, about 400 kilometres southwest of Washington, DC, affiliated with the national network CBS.

Among the central questions were whether media producers ought to be broadcasting footage of a double slaying, and what effect does such video, repeating over and over, have on society, let alone unstable potential copycats? As he raised the firearm at the oblivious news crew, Flanagan appeared to pause until Ward’s camera returned to the interview to ensure the murders would be broadcast live on-air. Ms Parker screamed and ran away as around 15 shots rang out, as the news camera operated by Ward fell to the ground and fleetingly captured an image of an armed Flanagan. It was a turning point for mobile technology and social media, a day when our tech universe folded in on itself as it became a platform for a murderer to log and broadcast his heinous acts.

It has since been revealed that Flanagan, 41, was a former reporter for WDBJ7 and used the screen name Bryce Williams before he was fired two years ago. Police later found Williams in a critical condition after he shot himself in a car in Fauquier County, about 320 kilometres northeast of the scene of the shootings. Many big media outlets, including The Chronicle’s website, offered the initial live video to viewers but not the more graphic video shot by Williams, even though it was widely available on the Internet. “Yes, everything is available online,” said Bob Papper, a journalism professor emeritus at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., who has surveyed trends in television and radio for 22 years. “I don’t know if it drives what’s on TV other than it makes us numb to the realities of it. A series of tweets aired grievances the shooter had with his former colleagues and included a host of personal images since seized upon by news outlets.

It may well change the standard, so it’s possible young people have a very different standard of what to show than an old fogy like me, but I don’t think we need to see people being killed on television.” Flanagan, who later shot himself to death, attended San Francisco State University and once worked part time as a production assistant at KPIX-TV in San Francisco. That man, authorities said, was Flanagan – a former staffer who used the on-air name of Bryce Williams and was fired by WDBJ, a man who always was looking for reasons to take offense, colleagues recalled.

WDBJ7 has confirmed both Parker and Ward died in the shooting, while it is understood Gardner, the woman being interviewed by Parker, was shot in the back and has undergone surgery. The disgruntled former employee of WDBJ sought wide exposure for his actions, posting messages on Twitter on Wednesday morning about his time at the station. In a tragic twist, Ward’s was working in the station’s control room watching the events unfold when Ward and reporter Alison Parker were shot during a live interview. The story took a bizarre twist in the hours after the attack when Williams posted execution-style videos on social media websites Facebook and Twitter of him appearing to carry out the shootings. Former neighbor Tandy Amburgey said Gardner always greeting people with a hug and would not want Smith Mountain Lake’s reputation to be tarnished by the shooting.

He claimed in the screed that he had been driven by the June slayings of nine African Americans at a church in South Carolina, an attack committed by a white racist. Wednesday’s on-air murders reverberated far from central Virginia because that’s just what the killer wanted – not just to avenge perceived wrongs, but to gain maximum, viral exposure. Originally from California, Williams worked at the television station until February 2013 when he left following a dispute with the station during which he had made complaints against his colleagues.

He said that police in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where she had her first full-time job would give her scoops because she showed herself to be trustworthy. He used his insider’s knowledge of TV journalism against his victims – a 24-year-old reporter who was a rising star and a 27-year-old cameraman engaged to a producer who watched the slaughter live from the control room. Flanagan in a memorandum, “resulted in one or more of your co-workers feeling threatened or uncomfortable,” the documents showed. “We want you to work on the tone of your interpersonal relationships and exercise great care in dealing with stressful situations or disagreements and your response to them,” the executive, Dan Dennison, wrote. “You need to always work as a member of a collaborative team and allow your teammates to do their jobs and not assume that you alone are concerned with high quality standards.” At the time, Mr. As I watched the video –- wishing all the while that I hadn’t found it — I couldn’t stop thinking: Did he shoot it like a video game because he was trying to recreate the violence he’d seen on game console screens?

Flanagan’s planning may have started weeks ago when, ABC News said, a man claiming to be Bryce Williams called repeatedly, saying he wanted to pitch a story and needed fax information. Of particular concern to some who followed the horror in Virginia was the idea that the constant coverage, the videos and the details of the killer’s ramblings could encourage copycats. But, he said, there is danger in media saturation. “If they are going to use that footage beyond anything live, it should be used in the context of how gun violence is a problem, to educate the public — otherwise, it’s just clickbait,” Girard said, referring to shallow online content designed to drive up readership figures. “These shooters should not be glamorized.” According to the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St.

Flanagan, 41, who was fired from WDBJ in 2013, was described by the station’s president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, as an “an unhappy man” and “difficult to work with,” always “looking out for people to say things he could take offense to.” “Eventually after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. Flanagan to contact the company’s employee assistance program. “We will continue assisting you with your professional growth and development,” Mr.

Marks said Flanagan alleged that other employees made racially tinged comments to him, but that his EEOC claim was dismissed and none of his allegations could be corroborated. While we can’t say to what extent Flanagan planned his acts (there are reports he sent a lengthy manifesto to media outlets before the murders), I am not convinced he had planned out how he would use social media in advance.

Dan Dennison, now a state government spokesman in Hawaii, was the WDBJ news director who hired Flanagan in 2012 and fired him in 2013, largely for performance issues, he said. “We did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man,” Dennison said. “You just never know when you’re going to work how a potentially unhinged or unsettled person might impact your life in such a tragic way.” Court records and recollections from former colleagues at a half-dozen other small-market stations where he bounced around indicate that Flanagan was quick to file complaints. Dennison wrote a memorandum that detailed what he described as “recent examples of lack of thorough reporting, poor on-air performance or time management issues.” As the winter wore on, station officials decided to fire Mr.

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. But I had also seen the live WDBJ7 video shot through Ward’s camera and the scene matched it exactly, except for the perspective behind the cameraman. If she was here, she’d be saying ‘Man, at least everybody gets to see our beautiful lake.'” Authorities say the suspect in the on-air fatal shooting of two journalists was found by Virginia state troopers after he switched from his vehicle to a rental car he’d gotten earlier this month. Using the same technology that each of us use every day to share our happiest and saddest thoughts, our biggest and most minor accomplishments, Flanagan had an agenda most of us can scarcely comprehend. This distorted use of the technology and the platforms makes me wonder if more of this will seep through as those who’ve become unmoored from society seek a voice and a way to communicate their pain, anger or frustration.

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.

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