Police in Virginia have not determined the motive that drove suspect Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, to reportedly shoot and kill a TV news reporter and a photographer for WDBJ-TV Wednesday morning. The man was obviously disturbed, local law enforcement officials said.
"We're still looking into a motive," Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "But it is obvious this gentleman was disturbed in some way."
Overton confirmed that Flanagan, 41, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at a Virginia hospital. The former WDBJ-TV employee reportedly shot himself after being pursued by police. He was taken to ahospital with critical injuries after police stopped him on Interstate-66, Overton said.
An investigation into the shooting will be long, Overton said. He said the shooting was very emotional, and that he watched the morning news himself when the shooting unfolded.
"It stopped me right in my tracks this morning," Overton said.
Alison Parker, 24, a morning TV news reporter, and Adam Ward, 27, a photographer, of WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, were both killed after shots were heard around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday while Parker was doing a live broadcast from the Smith Mountain Lake water park, according to WDBJ-TV. Vicki Gardner, the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce head who Parker was interviewing at the time of the shooting, was shot in the back and was sent to surgery. Police said Wednesday afternoon she is in stable condition.
"We're not sure at this point in time if the individuals even realized he was there before the incident happened,” Overton said of the shooting.
Two tweets posted to a Twitter account of a person named Bryce Williams appeared to show the moments leading up to the shooting. The account has aparently since been suspended.
Police put the WDBJ-TV station on lockdown after the shooting, according to a tweet from a Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter. Jeff Marks, WDBJ-TV general manager, said on air Wednesday that the former employee was an unhappy man who gathered a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with. After many incidents where he showed his anger, the station dismissed him, Marks said.
Heartbroken over senseless murders today in Smith Mountain Lake. State Police on scene working w/ local law agencies to capture suspect.
— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) August 26, 2015
Now they believe vehicle is East Bound on I64, east of Staunton. Multiple outlets reporting police are in pursuit #WDBJ
— Cameron Austin (@CameronOAustin) August 26, 2015