The shooter in a tragic incident Wednesday morning in which two journalists, 24-year-old Alison Parker and 27-year-old Adam Ward, at a local Virginia television station were shot and killed has been identified as 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II. Reports say he was a former employee of the station, and used the name Bryce Williams on air. Sources initially indicated also the shooter is an ex-boyfriend of one of the victims, presumably Parker, though excerpts of a manifesto allegedly written by Williams indicates he felt discrimination as a gay black man.
According to the local ABC affiliate, WHSV, Williams has shot himself. At first, reports sait he shooter had died, then they were revised to say he was alive and in critical condition. Finally, the Virginia secretary of public safety, Brian Moran, reported that Williams died at 1:26 p.m.
Augusta County Sheriff's Office confirmed they are looking out for Vester Lee Flanagan in relation to the shooting. @roanoketimes
— Tiffany Stevens (@tiffanymstevens) August 26, 2015
— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) August 26, 2015
— ABC News (@ABC) August 26, 2015
Reports say Williams was hired by the station in April 2012 and left the station in September 2013. He appears to have set up a Twitter feed on August 12 seemingly telling his life story, including photos of himself as a child and some from an earlier modeling career. The account appears now to have been suspended, but the original feed appears to have posted video of the shooting. His LinkedIn profile suggests he is currently unemployed.
Reports surfaced in the hours after the shooting that Williams previously filed a racial discrimination complaint against the Roanoke-based station where the shooting took place, but the complaint was dismissed.
In a 23-page fax allegedly written by Williams and sent before the shooting, he detailed reactions to the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this summer. “What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them,” the fax said, according to excerpts published by ABC News. One part of the document included the phrase, “Suicide Note for Friends and Family” and detailed discrimination he experienced as a gay, black man. The Twitter timeline also alleged Parker made racist remarks (screenshot below).
— Heather Myers (@HeatherMyersSD6) August 26, 2015
CORRECTION: This post originally indicated that this incident may have been related to intimate partner violence, based on reports that the suspected shooter had previously dated one of the victims, but new information now suggests that may not be the case. Portions of the original post, which might no longer be relevant to the shooting, are below.
Unfortunately, women and their colleagues getting targeted by gun violence at work is not uncommon. Several shootings in recent years have involved former husbands or boyfriends tracking down their partners at work. This is often because while women can escape abusive partners by moving to a shelter or other save living location, they often can’t change jobs as quickly, and this means their partners know where they can find them. It can lead to women feeling they cannot reject men’s romantic advances for fear of becoming victims of violence.
Additionally, intimate partner violence against women is extremely common. Over 90 percent of female homicide victims are killed by someone they know. Of those who know their victims, over 60 percent are legal partners or otherwise intimately acquainted with their shooters.