Thursday 26 April 2018

US debates gun laws after TV murders

Journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were murdered live on TV by Vester Flanagan
Journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were murdered live on TV by Vester Flanagan
Vester Flannigan

Terence Dopp in Virginia

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said the US should enforce existing gun laws, rather than pass new ones, in response to the Virginia murder of two journalists live on TV.

"The deaths are an awful tragedy, but let's focus on what the real problem is: we're not enforcing the laws in this country," Mr Christie (52) said on the 'Fox & Friends' programme.

"We've got plenty of laws on the books that deal with gun violence; we just don't enforce them."

He attacked US President Barack Obama's comment that the number of people who die from domestic gun crimes "dwarfs" deaths from international terrorist groups.

"I don't know that anybody in America believes that they are more threatened by this than they feel threatened by Isis or other terror groups around the world," the governor said.

Meanwhile, Vester Flanagan the man who murdered the two television journalists during a live broadcast, was a self-confessed "powder keg" of anger over what he saw as racial discrimination.

Flanagan (41) shot himself as police pursued him on a Virginia highway hours after the shooting. He had sent ABC News a 23-page fax about two hours after the shooting.

The network cited Flanagan as saying he had suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work. He had been attacked by black men and white women and for being a gay black man, he said.

"It's obvious that this gentleman was disturbed in some way at the way things had transpired at some part of his life," Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton told a news conference.

"It appears things were spiraling out of control, but we're still looking into that," he said.

Flanagan had sued another station where he worked in Florida for alleged racial discrimination. Flanagan said that he was called a "monkey" by a producer in the lawsuit filed in federal court against Tallahassee station WTWC in 2000.

He also said a supervisor at the station called black people lazy. The Florida case was settled and dismissed the next year, court records show.

WDBJ7 president and general manager Jeff Marks said he knew of no particular connection between Flanagan and the two slain journalists.

Speaking to CNN about Flanagan, he added: "Do you imagine that everyone who leaves your company under difficult circumstances is going to take aim?"

The station's early-morning broadcast showed Parker interviewing Vicki Gardner about lake and tourism development in the area. Gunshots erupted, and as Ward fell his camera hit the ground but kept running.

An image caught on camera showed what appeared to be a man in dark clothing facing the camera with a weapon in his right hand.


The station described the two dead journalists as an ambitious reporter-and-cameraman team who often produced light and breezy feature stories for the morning programme.

"I cannot tell you how much they were loved," Mr Marks said.

They were both engaged to other people at the station.

"My heart goes out to the families affected," Mr Obama said in a television interview in New Orleans, adding that such gun violence occurs "all too often in this country".

He said the United States needs to do "a better job of making sure that people who have problems, people who shouldn't have guns, don't have them."

According to his social media sites, Flanagan attended San Francisco State University. A university spokesman said he graduated in 1995 with a degree in radio and television.

Irish Independent

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