Former Reporter Guns Down News Crew On Live Television

2BADFE1100000578-3211529-image-a-31_1440598581548We often discuss the “perils of the press” in humorous stories of the unexpected for journalists. However, we are often reminded of the dangers faced by reporters in their daily jobs. Today offered one such tragic example from Moneta, Virginia. Vester Lee Flanagan, who used the name on-air of Bryce Williams, shot and killed WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27. He then posted the filmed event and tweeted about it. It is a bizarre and chilling example of how social media has become intertwined with such crimes in our society. Flanagan later shot himself in a confrontation with police.

2BAE86CD00000578-3211529-Unfathomable_Vester_Lee_Flanagan_tweeted_what_appeared_to_be_an_-a-82_1440603531216wdbj+gunman+imageFlanagan (shown left) said that Parker made “racist comments” and that he had filed a complaint was filed against her through the equal employment opportunity commission. Ward had worked with Flanagan and he said that Ward had complained about having to work with him. He then shared his attack on Twitter. Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, died at the scene while the woman being interviewed was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery.

Ward was engaged to Melissa Ott, a news producer who was working on the show and watched from the control room as the shooting happened. This was her last day on the job because she was about to start a new job in Charlotte, North Carolina and Ward planned to move with her. The office-mates had just thrown a party that morning for her.

These cases often raise civil liability for the employer. While the criminal case is apparently closed given the statements and film of the deceased, families can sometimes sue over the failure of an employer to warn them or take some action.  In this case, it appears that Flanagan is no longer working for the station so that insulates the studio to some extent.  There can be questions however is anyone had reason to know of a violent predisposition or targeting of these victims. There is no indication of such forewarning or prior indications of violence at this time.  This type of delayed and unhinged response is very difficult for anyone to foresee and an employer cannot monitor former employees for years.

I can only imagine the grief of these families and survivors when faced with such a senseless act. The chilling combination of social media deepens the unfathomable aspects of this double murder.


The video is graphic and available here

335 thoughts on “Former Reporter Guns Down News Crew On Live Television”

  1. Karen, I assess people for a living. The point w/ this father is if he went on TV after his daughter’s funeral, even if I disagreed w/ everything he said, he would get a pass from me. Losing a child is the worst! But, this guy was on TV the same day his daughter died. Not just a spontaneous solo interview for which I also would have given him a pass. But, he did the circuit, like politicians do, going on multiple stations. That means it’s about him, not his daughter.

  2. Isaac – I forgot to add that we’ve already come to an agreement about the necessity of firearms in many parts of the country, such as rural areas. Even if you feel that it’s absurd for a government to respect an armed populace, there are many other reasons why firearms can be necessary for law abiding citizens.

  3. Isaac:

    We have thousands of years of history of governments decaying into tyrannies. Why do you think it is impossible to ever happen again? Has human nature changed? Professor Turley has written often on the uber presidency and the rise of an unaccountable government. Project this trend forward 200 years and what do you predict we will have?


    Sorry to hear that allergy season has hit hard. Hope you feel better.

    “Any common sense member of management or HR would not have hired Mr. Flanigan. As someone mentioned above, look at his previous work history. Why would you hire an lunatic, fire a lunatic, and then get upset when the lunatic acts like a lunatic by coming back and shooting up the place?”

    I don’t know about other states, but here in CA, there are laws that state that an employer cannot give a bad reference. All they are allowed to do is verify dates employed. They certainly cannot share HR records. I seriously doubt that this news station had any idea that this guy had filed a series of racism complaints everywhere he worked. I just assumed that VA had similar laws. On the other hand, if there are not constrained by similar laws, and they refused to hire someone because he had alleged racism at previous companies, then I think they might be vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit.

    What a mess.

    This thread has blown up, so I might have missed it if this has been answered already. If so, my apologies.

    Can anyone tell me if this shooter had a history of a diagnosed mental illness? Was he insane or just another murderer? Did he have any disqualifying conditions that should have precluded him from getting a gun? Prior criminal history, for example?

    I certainly don’t blame a grieving parent for wanting to take away the tool that was used to kill his beloved child. If he never used a firearm for hunting, self defense, or any other valid reason, then, to him, it’s only purpose is to commit a crime. He’s grieving and nothing will make that right, so I doubt he really cares right now about other people’s rights.

    I’m sure that many of the family of those killed in drunk driving accidents would want to ban alcohol, or ask for the death penalty for anyone pulled over for DUIs.

    That’s why grieving families are not given the power to re-write the Constitution. They should have our love and support, but we need to understand that their grief does not make them a Constitutional expert or wise in the unintended consequences.

  4. Well, the underlying causes when a hateful white racist kills is the Confederate Flag, White Supremacy, and Guns. When a coward, racist, gay, black, man named VESTER FLANAGAN kills, the underlying cause is GUNS GUNS GUNS!

  5. And some here would laugh. That one would find anything about this situation to be funny is beyond despicable.

    What happened in VA is a tragic reflection of our seriously dysfunctional, very sick society — akin to what happens in the dysfunctional families in which violence erupts. We’d better seek the underlying causes…

  6. LOL! VESTER FLANAGAN lived in a cat urine feces soaked apartment. His racial discrimination lawsuits were thrown out of court. He was a proud paid gay escort and had vanity photos and a gay pride flag adorning his apartment as the only decoration. His lifestyle and mindset was as bad as Dylan Roof’s. But it’s not his fault these 2 people are dead. It’s the magic gun’s fault.

    1. Nick – he had a rainbow flag. That flag is the sign of death, we must ban it. Take it down. Burn it.

  7. Well Hilde, when you perceive yourself to be the ONE sane person a blog of crazies, odds are not in your favor that YOU are the sane one..

  8. Many good points by Janice Harper:

    Anniversary of a Workplace Shooting

    Posted: 08/03/2011 3:03 pm EDT

    “One year ago this week, Omar Thornton, a delivery truck driver, methodically shot and killed eight of his co-workers at Harford Distributors in Manchester, Connecticut, wounded several others, then shot and killed himself. Was Thornton bullied in the workplace, mobbed by management and co-workers to the point of mass murder? Given the savagery of his final acts, does it really matter if he was harassed, discriminated against, bullied or mobbed?

    “It does if it can prevent future acts of workplace vengeance. Last year, when Lt. Governor M. Jodi Rell asked, “In the wake of this tragedy, we are all left asking the same questions: How could someone do this? Why did they do this?” his question was treated almost as if it were rhetorical. Any serious effort to answer it was blasted away with a flippant hate-filled remark as if trying to understand what drives workers to kill somehow excuses the killing and trivializes the trauma the survivors will forever suffer.

    … “Omar Thornton was the only one who died from suicide. The others were murdered. Understanding the motives of their murders may help to prevent future acts of workplace violence. To honor those so heartlessly killed, let us ask these discomforting questions — out of respect for their lives.

    “And also let us ask, each of us, these discomforting questions: if someone in your own place of work or community is being targeted for elimination right now (or has been), shunned and dehumanized and accused of one fault after another — how would you treat this person if you suddenly learned that they were not the lowly worker they appear to be, but in fact, owned the company? What if you discovered that the object of ridicule and scorn were rich and connected? Could help you with your next promotion, introduce you to someone of influence over your life or career? Might you treat them more kindly?

    “If the answer is yes, then it is not Omar Thornton’s acts that one ought to contemplate. The acts to focus on right now are one’s own. By asking these questions, we are forced to consider just how we define “fairness” in the workplace. Each of us has a breaking point, at home and at work. Each of us has a heart of darkness that can bring us to act with cruelty toward others. And each of us has a heart of illuminating light that can help us to heal in times of darkness. To honor the anniversary of those who died so needlessly at the hands of Omar Thornton, let us each, in our own way, illuminate our hearts, and go gentle into that good day, the workday, where we live and learn alongside each other in pursuit of our own very personal American dreams.”

  9. If we are going to require mental competency tests issued by judges as a preemption policy – that exercise might start to resemble the movie “Minority Report”. The medicine may destroy more innocent lives than the ailment.

    There currently isn’t any truly “independent” professional organizations to make that judgement. Just weeks ago the APA was “forced” to stop participating in over a decade of torture and admit wrongdoing. In decades past homosexuality and sexual promiscuity were considered mental disorders by the medical community. African-Americans were discouraged from having guns by government authorities. There are not currently any phychological organizations willing to stand up to government pressure on any issue. This ideas sound good on paper but how exactly would they really work without defaming innocent Americans?

    The world has never been totally safe and never will be. Education by teachers/parents teaching civility and respecting other people (even those we disagree with) is probably the most powerful weapon to counter all types of violence.

  10. So Hildegard, are you one of those people who thinks all the latest mass shootings were hoaxes? Sandy Hook,etc. And to what purpose? Do you think that the government is trying to gin up outrage over the 2nd Amendment by creating these shootings with actors, because they have plans to repeal it? Or ban guns? So what happens to all the “faux” victims? What does the government do with them? Do you also think 9/11 was a false flag attack?

  11. Alright Paul. Against my better judgement….and I do believe that you personally have no real interest in waking up but just enjoy commenting AD NAUSEAM (like so many others) on this site, I’m going to post this ONE link to this ONE video on this latest of many many FAKE shootings and yes…..NO ONE GOT KILLED. If by posting this one LAST link and just ONE person wakes up to this shite it will have been worth coming back to this bloggers wasteland one more time. I’d be willing to bet though that if anyone here actually watches the WHOLE thing and has an AHA moment, it probably won’t be YOU, but thanks for asking the question. And again…NO ONE GOT KILLED.
    Virginia Shooting HOAX: Gene Rosen Award goes to Chris Hurst = Crisis Actor

    1. Hildegard – I would think that if the TV station was to run a fake shooting on the air live, they would start to have trouble keeping their licence.

      1. Paul – Just as I expected you DID NOT WATCH THE ENTIRE VIDEO. In fact I doubt you watched any of it so please just go back to sleep. Continue your mental masturbation. What a waste of time this site is!

        1. Hildegard – screwing with you IS my mental masturbation. I am not sure who the nitwit is who is recorded but he is the fake. I have seen thousands of people in my lifetime react to death or loss. There is no one way to do it.

          So what is the explanation? Do they all go into witsec?

  12. I don’t think she is saying that. Hildegard, can you enlarge on your comment “THIS IS MY LAST COMMENT ON THIS PATHETIC SITE” so that everyone here can better understand you’re point(s) of view?


  14. a person having both intent and action to commit a capital murder is not going to be deterred by a misdemeanor unlawful possession of a firearm law or a gun free zone ordinance. They are risking a possible death sentence in many states yet, they go on to kill others.

    Considering that the recidivism rate for violent felons is roughly 60%, incapacitation (usually by incarceration) is probably one of the best measures to prevent recidivism from a statistical basis. That is, the offender being removed from society does not reoffend as long as they are incarcerated. But, with such objections to the length of sentences and the numbers of inmates being unreasonable, it means that violent felons will be released sooner to a statistical probability they will again commit a violent crime. You can’t have it both ways. Every violent felon released from prison is prohibited from owning a firearm, yet most of the time they reoffend. Adding another gun restriction to these people is going to make almost no difference.

    And for the issue of just taking away pistols and enacting other gun control measures beyond what is already existing, the legal reality is that firearms possession is an individual civil right as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is also hardcoded into the constitutions of many individual states. It is not reasonable to deny the population of lawful citizens a civil right just because of the action of sole actors. It is simply political opportunism to deny civil rights to all.

    Furthermore, it is not possible, though it seems politicians all to often try, to regulate every aspect of life. Things are going to happen. People are going to act maliciously or outside the scope of the law. It does not follow that a new law must be added to punish everyone because someone gets out of line and a politician raises his fist declaring “There ought to be a law !”. The absence of such micromanagement is called liberty.

  15. Annie,
    Why would my suggestion of mental evaluations for people seeking gun ownership, strike fear in the heart of some people?

  16. Olly, If mental stability were to be the criteria for gun ownership I can think of two people right off the top of my head we won’t be seeing @ the firing range. Just sayn’.

    If we find a photo of VESTER FLANAGAN w/ a gay pride flag will there be a push to ban the flag?

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