Who Is Vester Flanagan? "Bryce Williams" Of WDBJ7 Is The Suspect, According To WHSD
A tragic and violent scene unfolded in Virginia on Wednesday morning. Two employees of news station WDBJ7 were fatally shot while filming an on-air segment. Now, Virginia authorities have ID'd the alleged shooter: Vester Flanagan, a former employee of the station who used the on-air name Bryce Williams. In an interview with WTOP early Wednesday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke out on the case, stating that the shooter was believed to be a disgruntled former employee of the news station, and urging a tightening of gun laws.
BuzzFeed reportedly received confirmation that Vester Lee Flanagan II was the name of the suspect being sought in the shooting, and a manhunt was apparently ongoing. Flanagan reportedly led police on a freeway chase, and was also live-tweeting throughout the aftermath of the attack, even posting video of the shooting. And now, according to Reuters, the chase is over: Flanagan has reportedly shot himself. According to CNN reporter Amy La Porte, it isn't yet clear whether Flanagan is alive or dead, but she further confirmed that he suffered a self-inflicted gunshot.
In addition to the unbelievably disturbing video Flanagan allegedly made of the shooting of WDBJ7's Alison Parker and Adam Ward, he reportedly faxed a lengthy document to ABC, who say they've forwarded it to law enforcement. It remains to be seen whether the information contained within helps explain this shocking tragedy at all.
The Daily Beast, among others, had reported that Flanagan was killed by his self-inflicted gunshot wound, but that was apparently premature — WDBJ7 reported that Flanagan was still alive, albeit in dire condition, following his suicide attempt. It's worth noting that The Daily Beast's article contains a screenshot from Flanagan's self-made video of the killings, showing him aiming a gun directly at Parker, moments before he opened fire. Be forewarned that even the sight of the still image is very upsetting.
The shooting took place at Bridgewater Plaza, during a segment Parker and Ward were putting together on tourism. As NBC News details, Flanagan's social media profile hints at some motivation — specifically, his accusation that Parker made a racist comment to him once (Flanagan is black), and that Ward reported him to human resources — but it's still entirely too early to say what relevance this has to the shooting, if any.
Flanagan also reportedly had a local news background beyond Virginia, previously working at San Francisco Bay Area CBS affiliate KPIX in the mid-'90s as a writer and intern.
Flanagan is 41 years old and reportedly grew up in Oakland, before graduating from San Francisco State University, which preceded his short stint at KPIX. Initial reports early Wednesday suggested that his suicide attempt had been successful, but authorities reportedly discovered that he still had a pulse, and he was described as being in "critical" condition. Now, however, according to the AP, Flanagan has reportedly died while undergoing treatment at a hospital.