On Wednesday morning, two employees of WDBJ7, a Virginia CBS local affiliate, were slain in an on-air shooting. The suspected killer of Ashley Parker and Adam Ward is Vester Flanagan, a former employee of the station, who afterwards reportedly tweeted out a chilling first-person video of the shooting, led authorities on a car chase, and fatally shot himself. Now, details from Flanagan's suicide manifesto, faxed to ABC immediately after the shooting and before he shot himself, have begun to trickle out. As you might imagine, they're disturbing.
Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15 ... What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.
Taking Flanagan's note at face value, he was to some extent motivated by the high-profile shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June. That shooting, allegedly carried out by Dyann Roof, left nine black parishioners dead. Flanagan (who referred to himself in the writing as Bryce Williams, his on-air name) was seemingly trying to get ABC News' attention before the shooting took place — they reported Wednesday that a "Bryce Williams" had been trying to pitch them an unspecified story for weeks prior to the attack.
Flanagan touched on many areas of alienation in his screed, in particular over his race and sexual orientation — although it wasn't known/reported prior to the manifesto's details coming out, Flanagan was gay. But the most prominent theme, at least as ABC News reports it, is undoubtedly that Charleston connection, with Flanagan writing the following:
What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow-point bullets have the victims' initials on them ... As for Dylann Roof? You want a race war, you (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE ...(deleted)!!!
Flanagan's manifesto didn't pin the entirety of his actions on the similarly horrifying Charleston shootings, however. He also acknowledged that his rage had been "building" for a while.
The church shooting was the tipping point … but my anger has been building steadily ... I’ve been a human powder keg for a while … just waiting to go BOOM!!!!
This sense of simmering danger is also reflected in his admiring words for other mass killers throughout recent American history. He specifically credits Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui-Cho, who killed 32 people in a 2007 massacre at the university.
Also, I was influence by Seung Hui-Cho. That's my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got ... just sayin.
To be clear, scant few details from the full document are available as of yet. And that's probably a good thing, owing to the highly sensitive nature of the incident. That said, ABC News reported that the fax totals 23 pages, so there's surely a lot there that's getting left out. But for the time being, the details we have are more than disturbing.