Journalists Killed: Who Was Vester Flanagan?

Photo of 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan (AKA Bryce Williams) who reportedly shot and killed two WDBJ7 employees during a live shot on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.
Photo of 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan (AKA Bryce Williams) who reportedly shot and killed two WDBJ7 employees during a live shot on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

ROANOKE, Va. (MEDIA GENERAL) – The man suspected in the shooting deaths of a WDBJ news reporter and photographer previously worked at the station and was described by Virginia’s governor as a “disgruntled employee”.

Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, who went by the name Bryce Williams on air, joined WDBJ in April 2012 as a multimedia journalist and general assignment reporter.

Prior to, he worked as a reporter at a number of stations throughout the South, including WNCT in Greenville, N.C. where he was a reporter and weekend anchor, WTWC in Tallahassee, Fla., and WTOC in Savannah, Ga.

Flanagan graduated from Skyline High School in Oakland, California before attending San Francisco State University, CNN reported. Shortly after graduating college, he worked as an intern at KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco.

In March 2000, Flanagan sued a former employer over allegations of race discrimination.

According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit filed against WTWC in north Florida claimed that a producer called him a “monkey” in 1999 and that other black employees had been called the same name by other workers.
Flanagan also claimed that a white supervisor at the station said black people were lazy because they did not take advantage of scholarships to attend college.

The station denied the allegations saying it had legitimate reasons for ending Flanagan’s employment, including poor performance, misbehavior with regard to co-workers and refusal to follow directions, among other reasons, the AP reported.

Flanagan is suspected in the killing of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photojournalist Adam Ward, 27. The two were shot at about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday during an interview on live TV near Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, southeast of Roanoke.

Flanagan fled the scene, but was spotted a few hours later traveling on Interstate 66, in Fauquier County, Virginia.

According to Virginia State Police, Flanagan ran off the road and crashed his car before shooting himself. He was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, where he later died at 1:26 p.m.

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