The parting words that Vester Lee Flanagan said to former colleague Adam Ward, the cameraman killed in this week's on-air shooting in Virginia, might have been prompted by Ward’s decision to film Flanagan being fired from their news station two years ago, court records suggest. Details continued to emerge Friday about circumstances leading to the February 2013 firing of Flanagan, whom authorities said killed Ward and fellow employee, WDBJ-TV reporter Allison Parker, in the Moneta, Virginia, shooting Wednesday morning.
The details were part of public court filings from a lawsuit filed by Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams professionally, against WDBJ-TV, a local CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, according to a WBAL radio news report. A note about Ward filming the termination was revealed in a memo describing how the ex-TV reporter became combative and verbally aggressive after being informed of his termination. Flanagan’s suit claiming harassment and racial discrimination was dismissed in July 2014.
"This was being recorded by Adam Ward; Bryce turned his attention to him and said something about paparazzi, told Adam he needed to "lose your big gut," and again flipped the camera off," the memo notes, according to WBAL. The 167-page document from the Roanoke City General District Court reveals a series of alleged issues with his former employer.
— Polo Sandoval (@PoloSandovalCNN) August 28, 2015
Investigators probed Flanagan’s mental state and actions leading up the deadly shooting, which managers at WDBJ said was completely unexpected. Jeff Marks, the station's general manager, said none of the employees had received a warning that Flanagan intended to target Ward or Parker.
Flanagan's combativeness, difficulties with other station employees and performance problems contributed to his termination, Marks said in a press conference Thursday. On the day he was fired, Flanagan allegedly handed the station's former news director a wooden crucifix and said, "You'll need this," Marks added.
He also said Flanagan reacted negatively when he was informed of his termination, telling other managers that he was "going to make a stink and it was going to be in the headlines."