Virginia authorities have identified WDBJ7 shooting suspect as Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, a former reporter for the Roanoke-based news station. Flanagan, who shot himself on Interstate 66 while evading police late Wednesday morning, has been described as a "disgruntled" ex-employee who seems to have had a vendetta against his former coworkers, including 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker. As police chased him down several local highways Wednesday morning, Flanagan uploaded a disturbing video to his Facebook page, showing the deadly shooting from his vantage point.
It appears that Flanagan recorded the video, which I won't post here, while simultaneously opening fire at Parker, her interview subject Vicki Gardner, and cameraman Adam Ward. The video begins with Flanagan slowly walking up to the news trio, stopping about five feet from Parker. The young reporter seems unaware that Flanagan has approached her.
As Parker interviews Gardner, Flanagan stretches him arm out in front of him, revealing a gun. He points the gun straight at Parker for a few seconds before dropping his arm.
After about 10 to 15 seconds, in which Flanagan appears to take a step back, he swiftly fires three shots in quick succession, striking Parker in the arm and shoulder. She flees as Flanagan keeps shooting.
Flanagan fires eight shots before his camera goes dark. Then, at least for more shots can be heard, as Flanagan seems to scuffle along the wooden walkway.
Before Facebook suspended Flanagan's account — which is listed under his professional name, Bryce Williams — late Wednesday morning, the disturbing video had 222 shares. Some of his other recent Facebook videos include several cat videos, and what appears to be a reel of his on-air reporting.
His Facebook page also lists his hometown as Oakland, California, and says that he studied at San Francisco State University. Flanagan's Twitter account, where he posted a series of angry tweets about his former employer and coworkers Wednesday morning, was also suspended.
Although Flanagan's social media accounts may have been deactivated, his harrowing video of the deadly shooting is, of course, still being passed around. You may be tempted to watch it, but you shouldn't — this heinous crime should not be consumed for our own twisted entertainment.
Let's not remember the victims' final moments. Let's honor Parker and Ward's friendship. Let's honor Ward and his engagement to a fellow WDBJ7 coworker. Let's share the love WDBJ7 evening host Chris Hurst had for his girlfriend, Parker. And instead of watching Flanagan's video, visit Alison Parker's official Facebook page and watch her most recent reporting work.