What We Know About Suspect Vester Lee Flanagan in Virginia On-Air Shooting

Vester Flanagan had been a reporter at the TV station where the victims worked.

ByABC News
August 26, 2015, 1:42 PM

— -- The man whom authorities say shot himself to death after being named as the suspect in the killing of two Virginia journalists on live television this morning was a former reporter at WDBJ-TV, where the victims worked.

WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed during a live appearance at 6:43 am in Moneta, Virginia. The Augusta County Sheriff's Office confirmed they had been looking for Vester Lee Flanagan II of Roanoke in relation to the shooting.

Virginia State Police issued a statement saying they had pursued the shooting suspect late this morning, apprehending him after he crashed his car on Interstate 66 in Virginia around 11:30 a.m.

Flanagan, 41, died at 1:30 p.m. from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a local hospital, according to police. He had no known criminal record, according to public records.

He was known professionally as Bryce Williams and previously worked at the station as a reporter.

Flanagan was an “unhappy man,” according to WDBJ general manager Jeffrey Marks, who confirmed on the air that Flanagan had been employed by the station.

Marks said Flanagan “quickly became known for a reputation for being difficult to work with.”

He was known for “looking out for people to say things that he would take offense to,” Marks added.

Flanagan was dismissed from the station two years ago, and was escorted out of the building by police, Marks said.

He also filed a lawsuit against WDBJ in March 2014.

According to documents obtained by ABC News, station managers told Flanagan to seek medical attention and that his behavior in the workplace made coworkers feel threatened and uncomfortable. The lawsuit, in which Flanagan alleged racial and sexual discrimination, was dismissed in July 2014.

The station denied wrongdoing, investigated his accusations and found them to have no merit, said Marci Burdick, senior vice president of the station's parent company.

Burdick also said that the station had no contact with Flanagan since then and did not receive any threats from him.

ABC News received a fax from a man claiming to be Bryce Williams roughly two hours after the shooting, which has been turned over to authorities.

The writer of the 23-page page manifesto praised the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter, who killed 32 people, and expressed admiration for the 1999 Columbine High School killers, who massacred 13, and wrote that today’s shooting was prompted by the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting earlier this year.

According to a LinkedIn profile under the name Bryce Williams, Flanagan worked for WDBJ from March 2012 to February 2013, and also spent time at television stations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.

Flanagan also attended San Francisco State University, according to the LinkedIn page. A rep for the university said a student with that name graduated from the university with a degree in Radio/Television in 1995.

In March 2000, Flanagan filed a federal lawsuit for alleged racial discrimination against WTWC-TV, the Tallahassee NBC affiliate where he had also worked but was fired from in 1999.

The station denied wrongdoing and said he was dismissed because of poor performance and office misbehavior. The case was settled out of court in 2001 for terms that were not clear.

Marie Mattox, Flanagan's lawyer in the case, said she believed her client's claims were founded but didn't know their "true validity."

"I know he was troubled by it, by what had happened," she said.

She said that she never suspected he would be violent but that "nothing justifies what he’s done."

WTWC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ABC's Josh Margolin, Meghan Keneally, Pierre Thomas, Jack Cloherty, Jack Date and Mike Levine contributed to this report