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Sacked reporter Vester Flanagan guns down ex-colleagues live on air, then kills himself

By James Dickinson

Published 27/08/2015

Alison Parker was conducting a live interview when she was shot dead by Vester Flanagan
Alison Parker was conducting a live interview when she was shot dead by Vester Flanagan
Vester Flanagan

The man who shot two US TV news journalists dead during a live broadcast has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Vester Flanagan died following a lengthy police pursuit after reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed on air as they worked on a live broadcast at a shopping centre in Moneta, central Virginia.

Flanagan, who went by the name Bryce Williams on the air, was found with a gunshot wound after his car crashed while he was being chased by police.

He was a former employee at TV channel WDBJ-TV. According to officials, he was known for being unhappy, angry and hard to work with, and had been sacked.

A third person, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, who was being interviewed by Ms Parker, was injured in the shooting.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office said that video recorded by the station's camera shows the male suspect holding a weapon.

Video shows Ms Parker carrying out an interview about tourism on Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County. She smiles before at least eight shots are heard. The camera appears to drop to the ground and the reporter can be heard screaming.

The gunman later posted a video he filmed of the shootings.

The Twitter account used to post the video also included the comments "I filmed the shooting see Facebook", "Adam went to (human resources) on me after working with me one time!!!" and "Alison made racist comments. EEOC report filed. They hired her after that???"

The video showed an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Ms Parker as she tried to run away.

The shooter appeared to walk up to the victims and stand close to them while holding the weapon.

The three, in the midst of a live TV interview, do not seem to notice the gunman, who does not start shooting until Mr Ward points the camera at Ms Parker.

The account was later suspended but the video had already been copied and was viewable elsewhere online. Jeffrey Marks, WDBJ's president and general manager, said 41-year-old Flanagan had to be escorted by police out of the station when he was sacked.

Mr Marks described him as "an unhappy man" and "difficult to work with", always "looking out for people to say things he could take offence to".

"Eventually we dismissed him. He did not take that well," Mr Marks explained.

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