Friday 15 December 2017

Church massacre was tipping point, hate-filled killer claimed

Vester Lee Flanagan sent 26-page fax to news station after killing
Vester Lee Flanagan sent 26-page fax to news station after killing

Barney Henderson in New York

Vester Flanagan, who killed two television reporters live on air, said that the Charleston church massacre in June of nine black people was his "tipping point".

In a 23-page fax sent to ABC News, Flanagan said the shooting by racist Dylann Roof in South Carolina "sent me over the top" and that he bought a gun immediately after the attack.

Flanagan used that weapon to shoot dead two colleagues - reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward - from his own television station during a live breakfast news broadcast.

Flanagan wrote: "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!!!!"

A man claiming to be Flanagan had called ABC News over the past few weeks saying he wanted to pitch a story.

Two hours after the shooting yesterday, ABC News received the fax. More than a hour later, a man called the station claiming to be Flanagan and saying he had shot dead two colleagues.

"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," he wrote.

"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 ----! You want a race war ----? BRING IT THEN, YOU WHITE ----!!!"

Flanagan said on Twitter after the shootings that Parker had "made racist comments" in the past and wrote in the document that he had suffered racial discrimination and bullying at work. He said that Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.

The facts that Flanagan had contacted ABC News weeks earlier; had written such a long, rambling document justifying his actions; and had bought the gun and hired a car well in advance, highlight the premeditated nature of the attack.

"Yes, it will sound like I am angry... I am," Flanagan wrote. "And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace."

Police said he later took his own life by shooting himself.

In the document, Flanagan also expressed admiration for Seung Hui Cho - the Virginia Tech mass killer - calling him "his boy" and expressed admiration for the Columbine High School killers.

Racial tensions in the US rose sharply after the June massacre by Roof, who said he hoped to ignite a race war.

Roof's photos posing with the Confederate battle flag sparked a nationwide debate on its modern use, leading to it being banned by several states.

Yesterday's shooting has also brought the nation's gun laws back into the spotlight. The White House yesterday issued an immediate call for Congress to pass new control laws on gun ownership.

"There are some common-sense things that only Congress can do that we know would have a tangible impact on reducing gun violence in this country," said Josh Earnest, White House spokesman.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for the presidency, said: "We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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