GUNS

Suspected Gunman In WDBJ Virginia Killings Tweets Videos of Shooting

Vester Flanagan, who police suspect in the killing of a reporter and cameraman for WDBJ, posted videos that appear to contain the shooting and the moments before it

Aug 26, 2015 at 11:23 AM ET

The disgruntled former TV station employee suspected of having fatally shot a reporter and cameraman on-air appears to have recorded up-close videos of the murders and then posted the footage to Twitter before later committing suicide. The first video posted shows someone believed to be former station employee Vester Flanagan holding a camera and walking up to reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward and the woman they were interviewing, Vicki Gardner. Parker and Ward are focused on their work, and Gardner on them, and none of them see the man approaching. At the end of the video, which lasts 20 seconds, the gunman pulls out a weapon and aims it at Parker. In further footage, the gunman can be seen shooting at Parker, with fire bursting from the barrel of the gun. Parker appears to turn and run and then the screen goes black. The two videos were also posted as one longer clip to a Facebook account that also appears to have belonged to Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams as well. The social media accounts were suspended shortly after the videos were posted. Vocativ is not publishing the videos because of their graphic nature.

Flanagan died early Wednesday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Virginia police. In the days leading up to the shooting, Flanagan was posting about his past on Twitter as well as his personal Facebook account, which he seemed to have created only recently. Last week, Flanagan posted to his Facebook page three nearly identical videos that at least superficially look like normal reels of highlights of his television reporting career, but in hindsight seem as if they may have been a message about what he had planned. The first of those videos opens with him in a gun shop holding a weapon, briefly shows someone else firing at a range, then cuts to him on a rowboat in a pond saying, “as you can see, this is a road to nowhere.” In the next bit he says, “It’s important that we get past this race issue and start seeing each other simply as Americans.” After the on-air killings, Flanagan accused the murdered pair of racism. “Alison made racist comments,” Flanagan tweeted. He then added, “EEOC report filed.” He had also previously sued one employer, alleging he was subjected to racism there.

The second video contains some of the same footage seen in the first, especially at its beginning, when it shows Flanagan wrestling another man to the ground and then cuts to an armed robbery that Flanagan covered. He is then shown reporting on a murder. “It was a gruesome scene,” he says. “In fact, the two bodies were found here inside the bedroom. You can’t see much through the curtain but when we peeked inside we saw the bed—covered in blood.” The video then moves to a longer version of a story contained only briefly in the first video. In it, Flanagan is covering a bear who’s been causing “quite a ruckus.” At the end of the footage of that story contained in the video, Flanagan says, “Law enforcement officers emphasize black bears are not aggressive, but still, you shouldn’t feed them, and stay far, far away.” This is a developing story. Check back for updates…