The man alleged to have gunned down a journalist and a cameraman during a live TV broadcast in Virginia, apparently wanted revenge for the killings of nine black people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Vester Lee Flanagan II, known professionally as Bryce Williams, shot and killed WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, during a live broadcast in the town of Moneta.
The gunman later uploaded a video of himself on Facebook, in which he is seen opening fire at close range and killing the pair. The video, which appears to be filmed with a cell phone, begins a few metres away from Parker and Ward conducting their interview. He walks closer and hovers within a few feet of the two journalists before pulling his gun, aiming it at Parker and shooting multiple times.
Following a police chase he turned the gun on himself and died from his injuries.
It now emerges that Williams had faxed a "manifesto" to ABC, in which he states that he was inspired by Dylann Roof and wanted to avenge the killings of nine black chuch-goers. Williams sent the document to ABC News shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday (26 August), nearly two hours after the fatal shooting in Virginia.
According to the television station, the 23 page document begins "MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS." He states: "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. What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims' initials on them."
Williams, who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness in California, goes on to say that Jehovah told him to commit the two murders. In the chilling letter which he refers to as a "Suicide Note for Friends and Family" he also makes reference to the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, describing him as "his boy," and goes on to express admiration for the Columbine High School killers. "Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That's my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got...just sayin.'"
On 16 June, Dylann Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Church during a weekly bible study session. Seconds before the attack, authorities said Roof stood up and announced he was there to "shoot black people."
He reloaded five times in the course of the massacre. The victims — six women and three men — ranged in age from 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, a recent graduate of Charleston's Allen University, to 87-year-old long-time church member Susie Jackson.
Williams, who was hired at the station in 2012, and frequently alleged that staff at WDBJ had made "racial comments" towards him, also goes onto elaborate on his personal grievances, claiming he has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work. He says he was attacked for being a gay, black man.
"Yes, it will sound like I am angry...I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace.... 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!!!!"
Hours after he sent ABC News the fax, Williams called the offices to tell them he'd killed two people that morning. He said the cops were after him and "all over the place."
Jeffrey Marks, the general manager of the news station said Flanagan was an "unhappy man" and "quickly earned a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with."
"He was sort of looking out for people to say things he could take offence to and 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," Marks said.
He went on to say that Williams filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in which he made a number of complaints that he suffered discrimination while working at the station. "None of [the complaints] could be corroborated by anyone, we think they were fabricated," Marks said.
In the aftermath of the shootings, commenting on Williams state of mind, Franklin County Sheriff W.Q. 'Bill' Overton Jr. said at a news conference: " This gentleman was disturbed at way things had turned out at some point in his life. Things were spiraling out of control."
Williams Twitter account has been suspended and the video has been removed.