MONETA, Va. (Aug. 26, 2015) – The man suspected of killing a TV reporter and a photographer in Virginia died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police in Virginia said.
Vester Lee Flanagan was wanted after the fatal shooting of WDBJ’s reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward, who were conducting a live TV interview Wednesday morning when they were ambushed. Parker was heard screaming over and over as shots were fired during the live report.
Authorities said Flanagan was a former reporter at the station who worked under the name Bryce Williams when he was at WDBJ. Police quickly identified him as a suspect. They found his car, a Ford Mustang, parked at an airport. He later switched to a rental car as he tried to evade police. A license plate reader helped police locate Flanagan, who failed to stop when a state trooper tried to pull him over. He tried to get away and crashed. When a trooper got to him, he’d shot himself, police said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Sheriff Bill Overton from the Franklin County (Va.) Sheriff’s Department said there was no clear motive for the attack and that investigators were still putting the pieces together. He described Flanagan as “disturbed” and said his thoughts and prayers went out to the staff at WDBJ and the families of the victims. Sgt. Rick Garletts from Virginia State Police said a license plate reader played a key role in finding Flanagan.
After the shooting Wednesday, a Twitter account from “Bryce Williams” uploaded video of the ambush and made comments about both victims. The account has since been suspended. A Facebook page linked to “Bryce Williams TV News” has also been shut down. ABC News said a man identifying himself as “Bryce Williams” also sent a 23-page manifesto that has since been turned over to authorities.
Vicki Gardner, a local chamber of commerce director, was being interviewed around 6:45 a.m. to promote an event at a lake near Moneta when the shooting occurred. She was shot in the back and had to undergo surgery. An official said she was “in good hands” and had stabilized.
Video broadcast live during the incident showed the camera falling to the ground, giving the audience the briefest glimpse of a man who appeared to point a gun toward the downed cameraman. The station then cut away.
The gunman is believed to have fired six or seven times, WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said.