News World News

Friday 30 September 2016

Profile: News gunman had a history of claiming racial allegations against co-workers

David Kearns

Published 26/08/2015 | 18:42

Vester Lee Flanagan, who was known on-air as Bryce Williams Credit: REUTERS/WDBJ7
Vester Lee Flanagan, who was known on-air as Bryce Williams Credit: REUTERS/WDBJ7

Vester L. Flanagan, who shot himself after killing of two former colleagues live on air, appears to have a history of claiming racial discrimination from former co-workers.

  • Go To

The 41-year-old, who worked under the name Bryce Williams, is believed to have held grudges against both his victims - 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward (27).

Filming his fatal attack on his former WDBJ7 colleagues, the former presenter at the station posted the clip on Facebook and Twitter.

In a series of tweets afterwards, he wrote that "Alison made racist comments" and "Adam went to (human resources) on me after working with me one time!!!"

Mr Flanagan worked with the pair at WDBJ7 for more than a year before he was let go in February 2013.

The Roanoke Times reports he had a troubled time at the station, suing them for discrimination in May 2014 following claims that staff made “racial comments” to him.

The case was dismissed a short time later by a judge who found that there was no evidence to corroborate his claims.

The paper said he named "most of the WDBJ7 staff in his complaint".Based on his work history, Mr Flanagan appears to have been unemployed at the time of the shooting.

Questions have been raised over Williams's mental health, with Virginia's governor Terry McAuliffe saying "there are certain people who should not be entitled to a firearm."

Journalist Heather Myers, who works at the SD6 station in San Diego, wrote on Twitter that her news director had "hired and fired" Williams in 2000 in Florida for “bizarre behaviour and threatening employees”.

WDBJ7 station manager Jeff Marks said Mr Flanagan was “an unhappy man” who was difficult to work with and quick to take offence.

“Eventually after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. And he did not take that well, we had to call the police to escort him from the building," he told the Guardian.

Mr Flanagan’s LinkedIn account shows he had worked as an intern before moving on to news writing and reporting.

Shortly before working as an anchor and producer at WNCT-TV in North Carolina for two years, the 41-year-old took a job with WTWC-TV in Florida.

He reportedly filed a racial discrimination lawsuit after losing his job, claiming that a producer called him a "monkey” and that he, and other black employees, were told to "stop talking ebonics".

WTWC denied the claims, and said his termination was due to ongoing issues with “profanity in the workplace”.

The case was settled out of court in 2001.

In the lawsuit, filed in 2000, he also alleged that a supervisor said that “blacks were lazy”.

Vester L. Flanagan (R) with former colleague Alison Parker
Vester L. Flanagan (R) with former colleague Alison Parker
Before the shooting, Mr Flanagan posted a series of images from when he was younger Credit: REUTERS
Before the shooting, Mr Flanagan posted a series of images from when he was younger Credit: REUTERS

Online Editors

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News