An eerie story from ABC News comes right after the tragic deaths of WDBJ7’s Alison Parker and Alex Ward. Parker, a 24-year-old reporter, was murdered, along with 27-year-old Ward, her videographer, on live television earlier this morning in Moneta, Virginia by ex-employee Vester Lee Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams). Flanagan was tweeting and posting videos of his heinous crime before Twitter and Facebook blessedly shut down his accounts. The third victim was Vicki Gardner, the executive director for the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, who was rushed into surgery and is currently in stable condition.
Around 8:26 a.m. this morning, ABC News received a fax from the alleged gunman. Around 10 a.m., the news organization received a phone call from a man who identified himself as “Bryce,” said he shot two people this morning, and added that the law enforcement was after him. He hung up, and ABC News promptly informed the authorities of the situation:
In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II.” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:
“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”
“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them."
It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.
Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'"
The article also mentioned that he was a victim of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying at work; that he was the subject of abuse from black men and white women; and the noted that the reason for such harassment was probably due to the fact that he was a gay, black man.
“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily...I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!” he wrote.
According to Mediaite, WDBJ’s station manager, Jeff Marks, described Flanagan as an “unhappy man,” who had a reputation of being “difficult to work with,” but admitted that he was a talented journalist. The anger demonstrated by Flanagan in his manifesto/suicide note appears to have been exhibited at the WDBJ office, where Marks said his anger issues came up often. The publication noted that Flanagan was eventually fired from the local CBS news station two years ago, which caused the police to arrive and escort him from the premises. Also, the Equal Opportunity and Employment Commission also dismissed his complaints, as they could not be corroborated.
In the meantime, the families of the victims are in mourning. Alison Parker’s father said in a statement that his family is “numb” and “devastated” by the news of her murder.
“Not hearing her voice again crushes my soul. Our family can only take solace in the fact that although her life was brief, she was so happy with it.”
ABC News added that the person claiming to be Vester Lee Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams) had called their offices for weeks prior to the shooting.
To rehash, in June, Dylann Roof committed a senseless act of violence at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people when he opened fire during the service.