Virginia TV journalists' murderer kills himself

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThere were eight distinct shots and screams on the video of the shooting, Richard Lister reports

A man who shot two journalists on live TV in the US state of Virginia has died after shooting himself, police say.

Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, an ex-employee of WDBJ7 TV known professionally as Bryce Williams, was in a car that was surrounded by police following a chase.

WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed some seven hours earlier during an interview in the town of Moneta.

The gunman later uploaded a video of himself opening fire at close range.

The White House has urged Congress to rapidly pass gun control laws in the wake of this latest shooting in the US.

What we know so far

Reaction as it happened

Virginia State Police said the suspect's vehicle had been spotted on the Interstate 66 highway following the shooting, and crashed off the road after being pursued by officers.

"Troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound," the force said in a statement.

He later died in hospital, a police spokesman said.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe Franklin Country Sheriff: The gunman was "disturbed in some way"
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe ambulance and paramedics are surrounded by police officers and vehicles

The Twitter account of Flanagan suggested he had held a grudge against Mr Ward, 27, and Ms Parker, 24.

Police said his utterances on social media the previous evening suggested the attack was pre-planned.

ABC News has meanwhile revealed that it received a 23-page fax, apparently sent by Flanagan on Wednesday morning, in which he claimed his anger had been "building steadily".

The fax said the attack was intended to avenge the Charleston shootings earlier this year - a suspected hate crime in which a white gunman killed nine parishioners at an African-American church.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The Twitter and Facebook accounts of Bryce Williams have been suspended
Image copyright WDBJ7
Image caption The live footage apparently captured the gunman

The rambling fax also complained of racial discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace, and professed admiration for the perpetrators of gun massacres at a US school and university.

The attack on the journalists took place at a large shopping centre, Bridgewater Plaza, near Smith Mountain Lake.

Ms Parker was starting a breakfast TV interview about tourism at the shopping centre when suddenly shots rang out, the camera spun and dropped to the ground, and her screams could be heard.

The footage then captured what appeared to be a fleeting image of the gunman, who was wearing black trousers and a blue top - and holding a handgun.

Vester Lee Flanagan/Bryce Williams

  • Aged 41, had been fired from WDBJ7 TV, reportedly over angry outbursts
  • Described himself as a "human powder keg" in rambling fax
  • Claimed to have suffered discrimination over his race and sexuality
  • Had worked at several TV stations in the southern US

What we know about the gunman

The woman who was being interviewed, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, survived the attack and is in a stable condition in hospital following surgery.

Bryce Williams's Twitter and Facebook feeds, which have now been suspended, subsequently showed video shot by the gunman.

They showed him raising a handgun, training it on the trio, and opening fire 14 times. The TV station's own footage of the attack recorded only eight of the shots.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWDBJ-TV general manager Jeffrey A Marks called shooting "a terrible crime against two fine journalists''

Staff at the TV station, which continued broadcasting after the live report, expressed shock and sadness at the loss of their colleagues.

"Alison and Adam died this morning at 06:45 shortly after the shots rang out," the station's president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, announced on air.

"I cannot tell you how much they were loved by the WDBJ7 team... our hearts are broken."

He described the suspected killer as "an unhappy man" who was "difficult to work with" and had to be escorted from the TV station by police officers when he was finally dismissed.

A complaint filed against the station with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the suspect had been dismissed, Mr Marks added.

WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst revealed that he and Ms Parker had been in a relationship and had planned to marry.

Image copyright Chris Hurst

"We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday.

"She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother."

He added that Ms Parker had worked on a regular basis with Mr Ward, and that he was heartbroken for Mr Ward's fiancee, a producer at the station.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, speaking to reporters, urged the passing of new gun control laws.

"There are some common sense things that only Congress can do that we know would have a tangible impact on reducing gun violence in this country," he said.

Alison Parker

  • Aged 24, was a reporter for WDBJ7's Mornin' show
  • Grew up in Martinsville, Virginia and edited her university newspaper
  • Joined WDBJ7 after internship and said she grew up watching the station
  • Was dating station anchor Chris Hurst

Adam Ward

  • Aged 27, was a cameraman for WDBJ7
  • Went to school in Salem, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia Tech
  • Described by his employer as committed and a "fine photojournalist"
  • Was engaged to station producer Melissa Ott

Who were the two journalists?