Virginia Shooting Suspect Was Former News Station Employee


Multiple sources confirmed to CBS News that the suspect has been identified as Vester Flanagan, a disgruntled station employee, who used the name Bryce Williams on television. 


CBS Reports:

MONETA, Va. — A suspect in the deadly shooting of a television reporter and cameraman Wednesday morning has shot and killed himself, CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ-TV reports, citing the Virginia State Police.

Multiple sources confirmed to CBS News that the suspect has been identified as Vester Flanagan.

The suspect, described as a disgruntled station employee, used the name Bryce Williams on television. A Twitter account belonging to a person using that name posted two videos of the shooting from the gunman’s perspective. The account has since been suspended.

Tweets posted to the account said that a report was filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against one of the victims, Alison Parker of WDBJ-TV, over “racist comments.” Other tweets said the other victim, Adam Ward, went to the station’s human resources office “after working with me one time.”


During an appearance on WTOP-FM’s “Ask the Governor” on Wednesday morning, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said that law enforcement personnel have a photo of the suspect and that he was known to the victims.

McAuliffe said the shooter was believed to be a disgruntled employee of the TV station and was being chased by police on Interstate 64. The governor said his arrest should be “imminent.” However, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told CBS News the agency was not engaged in any pursuit with the suspect’s vehicle.

“It’s just a tragedy,” McAuliffe said.

Video shows Parker interviewing an economic development official around 6:45 a.m. about tourism on Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County, looking at the upcoming 50th anniversary festivities for Smith Mountain Lake. The station said in a tweet shortly before the shooting that Parker was looking into the planning process for a celebration.

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Parker was smiling when suddenly at least eight shots were heard. Parker screams, runs and can be heard saying, “Oh my God.”

As the camera drops to the ground, it captures what appears to be a fleeting image of the shooter. The person is wearing black pants and a blue top and appears to be holding a handgun.

Barb Nocera, an official with the chamber, told the newspaper that Gardner was shot in the back and was in surgery.

Parker was interviewing Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Roanoke Times newspaper reports.

Schools in Franklin County and neighboring Bedford County were placed on lockdown following the shooting, according to messages posted to the school districts’ Facebook pages.

In a tweet, the station said: “We love you, Alison and Adam.”

Parker just turned 24 and attended James Madison University, where she was the editor of the school’s newspaper, The Breeze. She also had been an intern at WDBJ-TV.

According to her Facebook page, Parker spent most of her life outside Martinsville, Virginia. She was an avid kayaker and attended community theater events in her spare time.

Her boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst, said they hadn’t shared their relationship publicly but “were very much in love.” He said they had just moved in together and wanted to get married. She had just finished a special package on child abuse for the station, he said.

“I am numb,” he said.

The station’s website says Ward was 27 and a graduate of Virginia Tech. He was engaged to a producer at the station, Melissa Ott, said WDBJ spokesman Mike Morgan.

“Adam was our go-to guy. He pretty much was available to do anything that we asked,” Morgan said. “He did live shots during our morning show for several years.”

The station is based in Roanoke, Virginia, and serves the southwest and central part of the state. The shopping mall where the incident happened is just off Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, about 25 miles southeast of Roanoke.

Photo:  Bing




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