Alleged gunman Vester Flanagan, who killed two journalists Wednesday in Virginia, was advised by his former employer to seek medical help after numerous complaints were filed regarding his unusual and aggressive behavior at the station, where he worked alongside his victims. Several heated incidents were detailed in the WDBJ-7 memos, which were sent to Flanagan, 41, and obtained by the Guardian.
Flanagan, who went by Bryce Williams while reporting on air, fatally shot reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward during a televised broadcast Wednesday morning. He died later Wednesday after he shot himself during a police chase.
In the memos, Flanagan was noted as using "hard language" and "aggressive body language," in addition to "lashing out" at a colleague. Dan Dennison, the news director at the time, shared concerns with Flanagan about how he causes a "great deal of friction" with colleagues, particularly photographers. One memo from Dennison detailed an incident in April 2012 where Flanagan lost his temper and left his co-workers "feeling both threatened and extremely uncomfortable."
He had also been told to contact employee assistance professionals at the company Health Advocate, according to the Guardian.
“This is a mandatory referral requiring your compliance,” Dennison told Flanagan in July 2012. “Failure to comply will result in termination of employment.”
Flanagan was reportedly fired in February 2013, prompting him to behave disruptively. One memo regarding the events surrounding his termination claims that Flanagan yelled "Call the police. I'm not leaving. I'm going to make a stink, and it's going to be in the headlines."
Dennison decided to call the police to escort Flanagan out of the building. But when officers arrived, he refused and threw a hat and small cross at Dennison. "You need this," Flanagan shouted at Dennison. Police officers ultimately had to physically escort him out of the building.
Flanagan then sued the station in March 2014 over his dismissal, alleging racial and sexual discrimination in a civil lawsuit. Flanagan subpoenaed personnel records on both of the shooting victims, among dozens of other employees, as part of the lawsuit according to court filings obtained by the Huffington Post.
The station denied the allegations, and the case was later dismissed due to lack of evidence.