Published: 13:52 BST, 26 August 2015 | Updated: 14:39 BST, 27 August 2015
A man who was fired from his job as a television reporter two years ago took revenge against the small-town Virginia news station by executing two of his former coworkers on live television, and then posting disturbing first-person video of the attack on social media.
Viewers of WDBJ, a CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched in horror this morning as Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on live TV as the two were filming a light-hearted segment at 6:45am.
After carrying out the shocking on-air execution, Flanagan fled and posted video of the attack on social media while also writing about his grudges against the two young journalists in a Twitter rant.
He also faxed a 23-page manifesto-cum-suicide note to a national news station outlining his motives for the attack, saying he bought the handgun he used following the Charleston Church killings, adding: 'my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them'.
Five hours later, police cornered Flanagan a three hours drive northeast in Fauquier County, Virginia where he shot himself in an attempt to commit suicide. Flanagan initially survived the gunshot wound, but died not long after at approximately 1:30pm
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A disgruntled former news reporter filmed himself executing two of his ex-coworkers as they recorded a live television segment in Moneta, Virginia, this morning. Above, the video taken by alleged gunman Vester Lee Flanagan, who went on-air by the name Bryce Williams
Reporter Alison Parker, 24, (left and right), died at the scene after being shot on live television, along with cameraman Adam Ward, 27. Ward's fiancee, a producer at the news channel, was believed to be watching from the control room as the killing happened
While Flanagan was recording the video on his own camera, the shooting was being played out on live TV. Above, a grab of this morning's WDBJ newscast with Parker on the left and Vicki Gardner on the right. Gardner was being interviewed by Parker at the time and suffered a bullet wound to the back. She is now in stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery
After cameraman Ward dropped to the ground, his camera kept rolling and the shooter is seen in the background leveling a gun at him before controllers at WDBJ cut the feed
The feed then cut back to the studio where the morning anchor had an expression of sheer shock on her face after witnesses the crime
Just before 7am Wednesday morning, Ward was filming Parker as she interviewed Vicki Gardner, with the local chamber of commerce, about an upcoming event to mark the fiftieth anniverary of Smith Lake.
The two were chatting about how the event would benefit the community when eight gunshots ring out and a look of terror sweeps across Parker's face.
The women left off screams and attempt to flee before the camera falls to the floor, and a man dressed in all black is seen leveling a gun at Ward.
All of this played out as locals watched the interview live from their homes. When the producer finally cut the feed to the murder scene, the anchor sitting at the desk back in the studio was speechless.
WDBJ's general manager later came on the air to confirm their deaths: 'It's my very very sad duty to report... that Alison and Adam died this morning.'
Meanwhile, Flanagan was already making his way out of Moneta. It's believed that he first went to a nearby airport where he switched cars with a rental he had waiting and then started driving east towards the Washington, DC area.
All morning, alerts went out across western Virginia, warning that the gunman was on the loose and authorities said they were 'right behind him'.
However, it wasn't until five hours later that he was finally brought to a stop in Fauquier County, Virginia, about a three hours drive northeast of MOneta - just before noon.
Reports first stated that Flanagan had committed suicide, but authorities changed their statement to say that he was still alive. Nevertheless, he passed away around 1:30pm at a hospital in northern Virginia.
Both Parker, 24 (left), and Ward, 27 (right), died at the scene. Parker was dating fellow WDBJ reporter Christ Hurst, 28, and the pair had just moved in together, while Ward was engaged to WDBJ news producer Melissa Ott
After the shooting was broadcast on live TV at 6.45am, WDBJ's general manager came on the air to confirm the deaths, saying: 'It's my very very sad duty to report... that Alison and Adam died this morning'
Before he was caught by police, Flanagan took to Twitter to explain his reasons for killing his former coworkers.
Flanagan, who is African American, wrote that Parker made 'racist comments' and that a complaint was filed against her through the equal employment opportunity commission, but his station chose to hire her anyway.
As for Ward, Flanagan says that after working with the cameraman once, Ward complained to HR about the former general assignment reporter. It's unclear what - if anything - happened between the two men.
This afternoon it has been revealed that Flanagan was believed to be living in an apartment in Roanoak, just a few blocks away from the headquarters of WDBJ, before carrying out the shooting earlier today.
Police have been seen removing items from the apartment this afternoon, while reporters at the scene have been told to leave.
It has also been revealed that after being fired from his job reporting for WDBJ Flanagan took up work at a UnitedHealthcare call center, where he worked until November 2014. It is not known why he left the job.
But the most shocking post of all was a video Flanagan took of the attack, which he shared on his Twitter and Facebook.The chilling clip is taken from Flanagan's point of view and shows him approaching the two journalists as they were interviewing Vicki Gardner, the local chamber of commerce.
He opens fire first on Ward and then turns to kill Parker, who is seen running away in fear. Parker and Ward died at the scene while Gardner was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery and is now in stable condition.
After posting the graphic video of the attack, Flanagan's Twitter account was suspended.
Ward's lifeless body is seen on the ground in the building where he and Parker were fatally shot Wednesday morning
Flanagan also allegedly contacted ABC News after the attack, sending the news network a 23-page document elaborating on his motivations, saying he wanted revenge for the Charleston church shooting and was inspired by infamous mass shooters.
ABC says a man by the name of Bryce Williams first contacted them a few weeks ago, wanting to pitch a story but he wouldn't say what it was about.
This morning, that same man contacted them again, sending them a fax two hours after the shooting.
In the fax, described as a suicide note to friends and family, Flanagan says he became angered after the Charleston church killings and praised Virginia Tech shooter Seung–Hui Cho as 'my boy'.
Flanagan, who was raised as a Jehova's witness in California, also said Jehovah made him act.
The church 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!
'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.'
'As for Dylann Roof? You [redacted]! You want a race war [redacted]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[redacted]!!!”
At the same time, he professes a deep respect for other mass shooters like Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho.
'Also, I was influenced 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’.
He goes on to say that he has faced both racial and sexual discrimination as a black, gay man and that he was just waiting to explode.
'Yes, it will sound like I am angry...I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace...'
'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!!!!'
At one point in the manifesto he even confesses to killing his cats in a forest close to where he lives, blaming the news station for the animals' deaths.
Flanagan previously worked as a multimedia and general assignment reporter at WDBJ, before he was fired two years ago.
When he was fired from WDBJ in 2013, he had to be escorted out of the building by local police 'because he was not going to leave willingly or under his own free will,' the station's former news director, Dan Dennison, said in an interview with a Hawaii station, Hawaii News Now (KHNL/KGMB).
Flanagan, 41, had 'a long series of complaints against co-workers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station,' said Dennison, now an official with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.
'All of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. And they were largely under along racial lines, and we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man.'
According to the station, the situation got so bad he was asked to contact employee healthcare over fears for his mental stability.
Flanagan is believed to have fled the scene of the shooting and arrived at a nearby airport where he excahnged his car for a rental, before police eventually tracked him to Fauquier County, Virginia just before noon
While fleeing police Flanagan tweeted about the attack, posting a video of the shooting alongside a rambling explanation for the killings
Troopers said they found Flanagan's vehicle crashed off the highway after he shot himself in an apparent suicide bid. He was rushed to hospital, but was pronounced dead at around 1.30pm
Franklin County, Virginia sheriff, Bill Overton speaks to the press on Wednesday after the double murder in Moneta
The conflict described by Dennison in many ways echoed another, in 2000, when Flanagan was fired from a north Florida television station after threatening fellow employees, a former supervisor said.
Flanagan then sued the station over allegations of race discrimination, claiming that a producer called him a 'monkey' in 1999 and that other black employees had been called the same name by other workers.
Flanagan also claimed that an unnamed white supervisor at the station said black people were lazy because they did not take advantage of scholarships to attend college. The parties later reached a settlement.
Flanagan 'was a good on-air performer, a pretty good reporter and then things started getting a little strange with him,' Don Shafer, the former news director of Florida's WTWC-TV said Wednesday in an interview broadcast on Shafer's current employer, San Diego 6 The CW.
Shafer said managers at the Florida station fired Flanagan because of his 'bizarre behavior.'
'He threatened to punch people out and he was kind of running fairly roughshod over other people in the newsroom,' said Shafer, who did not immediately return a call for comment.
Court documents seen by Dailymail.com reveal that Flanagan was repeatedly reprimanded for his unprofessional conduct, scored low on performance reviews for his 'nervous' on-air delivery, and was nicknamed the 'human tape recorder' for his tendency to parrot what interviewee told him, or read press releases unedited.
Flanagan previously worked at WDBJ as a general assignment reporter (pictured right during his reporting days) but was fired and had to be escorted from the building by security after allegedly arguing with fellow journalists
After fleeing the scene, Flanagan allegedly wrote these tweets after killing Parker and Ward Wednesday morning in Moneta, Virginia
Flanagan was also once reprimanded by WDBJ editors for wearing an Obama campaign sticker on his jacket while reporting from an election booth in 2012, saying it 'demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of your role as an on-air journalist' and was a clear breach of impartiality rules.
Before and after his work in Florida, Flanagan, who also appeared on-air using the name Bryce Williams, worked at a series of stations around the country, sometimes for just a few months at a time.
They included a stint in 1996 at KPIX, a San Francisco station, where a spokeswoman confirmed he worked as freelance production assistant. From 2002 to 2004, he worked as a reporter and anchor at WNCT-TV in Greensboro, N.C., general manager and vice president John Lewis said.
Neither knew or worked with Flanagan and said they could not answer questions about his departure from jobs at their stations.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have spoken out since the tragic shooting this morning, calling for tighter gun controls, with the President adding: 'It breaks my heart every time you read or hear about these kids of incidents.'
Both Parker and Ward were in relationships with other employees at the news station. Ward was engaged to Melissa Ott, a news producer who was working on the show that morning and watched from the control room as the shooting happened.
It was Ott's last day on the job. She was about to start a new job in Charlotte, North Carolina and Ward planned to move with her. The crew had a party earlier that morning to celebrate her last day.
Solina Lewis, who described herself as a friend of Ott, spoke highly of Ward in a statement to Breaking911.
Ward was engaged to WDBJ news producer Melissa Ott (left). Ward pictured proposing to Ott in a photo posted to Facebook
Ott (picured) was watching in the control room Wednesday morning when the shooting happened. It was also her last day on the job. Ott was starting a new job in Charlotte, North Carolina and Ward was going to move with her. The news crew had a party for Ott that morning
Parker's (left) boyfriend of nine months was WDBJ public safety and mental health reporter Chris Hurst (right). The two had recently just moved in together
Chris Hurst, main anchor at WDBJ-TV shows photos in a scrapbook from his relationship with murdered TV reporter Alison Parker
Moneta is located in northwestern Virginia, about 40 minutes southeast of Roanoke. The shooting happened around 6:45am near Bridgewater Plaza
'He was an incredible person, a great journalist and would have been a great father and husband,' Lewis said.
'He was sweet, hard working, he came over to my apartment and put furniture together for me without Melissa even there. Even though he had to get up for work and do the early morning live shot the next day.'
Parker's boyfriend of nine months was WDBJ public safety and mental health reporter Chris Hurst, 28.
The couple had just moved in together. Hurst took to Twitter to convey his unfathomable pain: 'It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married.We just celebrated her 24th birthday,' he wrote.
Hurst only revealed the relationship to viewers after the tragedy.
'We didn't share this publicly, but [Alison] and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb.'
Parker's family have also paid tribute to her this afternoon, saying: 'Today we received news that no family should ever hear. Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful, and immensely talented Alison (was) taken from the world. This is senseless and our family is crushed.'
According to her bio at WDBJ7.com, Parker was the station's morning reporter. A local girl, Parker had spent much of her life outside Martinsville, about an hour from where she was tragically gunned down Wednesday.
Prior to her time at WDBJ, Parker worked near the Marine base Camp Lejeune for the Jacksonville, North Carolina bureau of WCTI.
Parker (left) and Ward (right) worked the early shift together often and were beloved by their coworkers. They both started off as interns at the station
She graduated from James Madison University just three years ago. While there, she interned at the local ABC/Fox affiliate and was news editor for her university's nationally recognized newspaper, The Breeze.
According to her station biography, she says she liked to whitewater kayak, play with her parents' dog Jack and attend community theater events.
'She was so enthusiastic and she was doing what she loved,' Deon Guillory, a reporter who had Parker as an intern in college, told CNN. 'She was living her dream.'
Photographer Ward was a Virginia Tech graduate who attended high school in Salem, less than an hour from the scene of his murder.
The two Virginia natives often worked together on WDBJ stories and started off at the station as interns.
In April, they traveled together to Appomattox for the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. In February, the station posted photos of the duo to Facebook as they dressed up as bride and groom at a local bridal store.
'Adam was a delightful person. He worked hard - you could tell he loved what he was doing,' Robert Denton, who taught Ward at Virginia Tech University, said.
However, another reporter at WDBJ said Ward recently told her that he was looking into getting out of news and switching careers.
'SHE WAS THE MOST RADIANT WOMAN I EVER MET': FELLOW ANCHOR'S INCREDIBLE TRIBUTE TO DEAD GIRLFRIEND HOURS AFTER SHE WAS SHOT DEAD ON AIR
Hurst (right) and Parker (left) had been dating for about nine months and had just moved in together
The heartbroken boyfriend of Alison Parker, the Virginia reporter gunned down on live TV this morning, has told of his unfathomable grief hours after losing the woman he loved.
WDBJ health reporter Chris Hurst, 28, took to Twitter this morning to celebrate his love for Parker and to thank a community that's run to his side after Parker and her cameraman, 27-year-old Adam Ward, were killed by a crazed gunman while taping a story in near the small town of Moneta.
'She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother,' Hurst tweeted before 10 a.m.
Hurst and Parker had been dating for less than a year when they moved in together recently.
'We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday,' he wrote.
While it appeared that co-workers were aware of the romance, Hurst revealed on Twitter today that their viewers were likely in the dark until the unthinkable murder shined light on the relationship.
'We didn't share this publicly, but @AParkerWDBJ7 and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb,' he wrote.
With Ward behind the camera, Parker was interviewing Vicki Gardner, the local chamber of commerce director, for a light-hearted segment at 6:45am when about eight shots rang out.
Screams were heard as the women ducked and the camera fell to the floor. A person dressed in all black was then seen standing nearby with what appeared to be a gun raised in one hand pointed at Ward.
The general manager at the CBS station later came on the air to confirm Parker and Ward's deaths. Parker was 24 and Ward was 27.
Police say they know who the suspect is and are currently hunting down the shooter. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe says the gunman is believed to be a disgruntled employee of the station.