On-Air Shooter Had Ammo, Letters in Car

     (CN) – The disgruntled former co-worker who shot and killed two WDBJ journalists on air Wednesday had spare ammo, a wig, notes and letters inside the rental car he used to flee from police, a search warrant inventory shows.
     Video footage shows former news anchor Vester Lee Flanagan II open fire on reporter Alison Parker, camera operator Adam Ward and interviewee Vicki Gardner at Smith Mountain Lake early Wednesday morning, killing the two journalists and seriously injuring Gardner.
     Flanagan, who went by the on-air name Bryce Williams, was identified as a person of interest in the shooting after sending a text message to an unidentified friend “making a reference to having done something stupid,” according to a police affidavit.
     Following the shooting, Flanagan fled north on I-81 in a rented silver Chevrolet Sonic, according to news reports, swapping out his 2009 Ford Mustang at the Roanoke Regional Airport.
     Sheriff Pam Neff identified the vehicle heading east on I-66 just before 11:30 a.m. and pursued the suspect for some time before he shot himself in the head, crashing into the center median at the 17.1 mile marker, police say.
     Flanagan was taken into custody and rushed to Innova Hospital in Fairfax, Va., where he died from his self-inflicted gun wound around 1:30 p.m.
     Police inventoried a loaded glock pistol, six spare magazines with 9mm ammunition, assorted handwritten notes and letters, including 17 stamped letters, and a briefcase containing the wig, sunglasses and three license plates inside the rented car, according to a search warrant and inventory released Thursday. It is unclear who the stamped letters were addressed to.
     According to a statement from WDBJ, Flanagan, a black man, fabricated several incidents of racial discrimination and became disgruntled after he was let go from the station in February 2012 for poor fact-checking and news judgment.
     “He reacted angrily, telling them that they would have to call the police because he was going to ‘make a stink and it was going to be in the headlines,'” according to the statement.
     “On his way out, he handed a wooden cross to the news director and said, ‘you’ll need this. He also made a derogatory comment to Adam Ward as he left.”
     The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed Flanagan’s complaint post-termination. Internal investigations “determined that no reasonable person would have taken any of the cited instances as discrimination or harassment,” according to WDBJ.
     Court records show Flanagan filed similar complaints against his employers at WTWC in Tallahassee, Fla.
     In portions of a 23-page manifesto faxed to ABC news nearly two hours after the shooting, an individual claiming to be Bryce Williams wrote that he was sent “over the top” by the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., and had acted on a message sent from Jehovah.
     According to ABC News, the author of the manifesto claimed to be a gay, black man who had suffered racial and sexual workplace hostility and previously worked as a male escort, citing “tough times” and “financial crashes.”
     The manifesto also praised several school shooters, including Columbine’s Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold and Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui Cho, whom the writer called “his boy.”
     “My hollow point pullets have the victims’ initials on them,” the fax read. “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!!!!”
     In the weeks leading up to the shooting, ABC says they were contacted multiple times by a caller who identified himself as Bryce Williams and wanted to “pitch a story.” Just after 10 a.m., the station received a final call from the man, alleging he had shot two people and that police were “all over the place.” The fax was turned over to authorities, according to ABC.
     Flanagan boasted about the murders on Twitter and Facebook sometime before his death and posted a graphic video to Facebook in which he allegedly approaches Parker and Ward, holding a cell phone camera with his left hand and a gun in his right. His social media accounts have since been deleted.
     In a press conference Wednesday, Franklin County, Va. Sheriff Bill Overton called Flanagan “disturbed” and described his life as “spiraling out of control.”
     Flanagan would have been charged with capital murder if he had not taken his own life, according to the affidavit.
     Both victims were described by friends and co-workers as ambitious and dedicated young journalists who got their start as interns at WDBJ. Both were planning to marry their partners, who were also co-workers at the station.
     “It’s a nightmare to know that both of them are lost well before we should have been talking about this,” said Parker’s significant other, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst.
     “As we reflect with heavy hearts on this tragedy, it is appropriate to begin to ask questions about how we can prevent these senseless events in the future,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement Wednesday. “We cannot rest until we have done whatever it takes to rid our society of preventable gun violence that results in tragedies like the one we are enduring today.”

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