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Saturday 16 November 2019

Gunman who killed two reporters live on air sued former employer WDBJ for discrimination

Vester L. Flanagan
Vester L. Flanagan
Vester L. Flanagan

David Kearns

The chief suspect behind the shooting of two journalists live on a breakfast show sued his former employer WDBJ7 in 2014 alleging discrimination.

Vester L. Flanagan, who worked at the station under the name Bryce Williams, was hired in spring of 2012 after working in San Francisco and in Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia.

He was let go by WDBJ7 in February 2013 and filed suit against the station in May 2014 in Roanoke General District Court seeking money he felt he was owed and additional damages.

His suit alleged discrimination by the station and named most of the WDBJ7 staff in his complaint.

In July however the case was dismissed by a judge.

On his Twitter account, 'Bryce Williams' appeared to have grieves against Alison Parker - the young TV news reporter (24) who was shot and killed, alongside her cameraman Adam Ward (27), earlier this morning during an interview with a member of the local Chamber of Commerce on the WDBJ channel.

Over the past week, a Facebook page in the name “Bryce Williams” was updated to include silent video recordings of stories Flanagan worked on as Bryce Williams.

One of the clips showed Flanagan in a gun store, holding a weapon.

WDBJ7 station manager Jeff Marks described Mr Flanigan as “an unhappy man”.

“Vester was an unhappy man. We employed him as a reporter, and he had some talent in that respect and some experience, although he’d been out of the business for a while.

“He quickly gathered a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with."

Mr Mark said that the 41-year-old was someone who would quickly “take offense”.

“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.

“Since then, well, he then filed an action with the Equal Opportunity Employment Committee in which he made all kinds of complaints about the staff."

Mr Flanigan alleged that the staff had made “racial comments” but, according to WDBJ7, none of them could be corroborated.

"We think they were fabricated,” said Mr Mark.

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