Alleged gunman appears to have filmed the attack himself; Latest reports say perpeptrator, identified as former employee of the TV station, shot himself after being confronted by law enforcement
Updated (11:54 PM EDT): Alleged shooter of journalists was disgruntled ex-employee; Suspected gunmen posted his own video footage of rampage to social media
According to new reports, the alleged shooter in this morning’s killing of two journalists for WDBJ-TV in Virginia has been identified as Vester Lee Flanagan, himself a former journalist who reported under the name Bryce Williams for the same TV station.
Though other major outlets have yet to independently verify it, Reuters and other local outlets reports that Flanagan has shot himself.
According to the latest from WDBJ-TV, who cited state police, Flanagan shot himself “on Interstate-66 in Faquier County” after he was confronted by law enforcement. Video footage from the scene showed a large number of police and other emergency vehicles on the highway. While some reports indicate the suspected as “killed,” the Roanoke Times reports that Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told journalists Flanagan was “in very critical condition.”
A subsequent post to the Virginia State Police’s facebook page offered a more detailed recounting of the events:
Shortly before 11.30am., Virginia State Police spotted the suspect vehicle headed eastbound on Interstate 66. With emergency lights activated the Virginia State Police trooper initiated a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle.
The suspect vehicle refused to stop and sped away from the trooper. Minutes later, the suspect vehicle ran off the road and crashed. The troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound.
He is being transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.
The male driver is believed to be the same male subject who shot three people this morning in Franklin County during a television news interview
Meanwhile, ABC News reported it received a fax containing a 23-page manifesto from someone named Bryce Williams. The document has been handed over to investigators, ABCsaid.
As part of its ongoing live coverage, the Roanoke Times reported at 11:19 AM EDT:
A Twitter user operating an account in the name “Bryce Williams” has been posting video clips that appear to have been recorded before and during the shooting at Bridgewater Plaza.
“I filmed the shooting see Facebook,” reads a tweet posted about 11:10 a.m.
Two short clips, posted around 11:15 a.m., show the scene of the shooting this morning filmed by someone holding a video camera and a handgun.
The video shows the person walking up to the WDBJ interview and briefly pointing a pistol at the reporter, and then the person opens fire.
Text tweets on the account appeared to voice grievances against the reporter and news cameraman.
“Adam went to hr on me after working with me one time,” one tweet reads. A series of separate tweets, posted at that time, read: “Alison made racist comments … EEOC filed a report … they hired her after that.”
The Twitter and Facebook accounts have been suspended.
Two reporters for a local television station in Virginia were reportedly killed Wednesday morning amid an incident that involved gunfire during a live broadcast.
Reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward of local NBC affiliate WDBJ were reporting a story at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia when the violence took place, according to the Roanake Times.
“Part of the incident was caught on video during WDBJ’s morning broadcast,” the newspaper reports. At the time, the two-person crew “was interviewing Vicki Gardner, head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce” for the station’s morning news broadcast.
Gardner was reportedly shot in the back and wounded, but WDBJ’s general manager Jeff Marks later confirmed that both Parker and Ward died shortly after the incident.
Local law enforcement are said to be searching the area for the suspected shooter.
As NBC News reports:
The Franklin County Sheriff Department told NBC affiliate WSLS 10 that three people had been shot in the incident at the Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, Virginia. The search for a suspect was ongoing, according to officials.
Anchors choked up on air as they confirmed the tragedy. The station’s general manager, Jeffrey Marks, said Parker and Ward were “special people” who did “great work every day.”
“How can this individual have robbed these families, the families of Allison and Adam, of their lives and their happiness and their love for whatever reason?” an emotional Marks asked. “They would brighten up a room every morning.”