Virginia Shooter Bryce Williams Has Died

Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, the man who shot and killed two TV news journalists this morning in Virginia, has died, just hours after attempting suicide by turning his gun on himself.

Flanagan, a “disgruntled” former employee at WDBJ-TV, a CBS affiliate in Roanoke, approached reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, as they were filming a live interview with a third person, Vicki Gardner, early this morning, and shot all three. Parker and Ward were killed, while Gardner was critically injured and rush to surgery; she is allegedly out of surgery and in stable condition.

Flanagan’s  face was captured briefly on camera, allowing the police to identify him, though Flanagan made no secret that he was the shooter, having filming the murders himself and posting them to social media. When police located the car Flanagan was driving and approached, he shot himself. Critically injured, he was transported to a hospital in Fairfax, where he died in the early afternoon.

Earlier today, ABC News reported that they had received a call from a man identifying himself as Flanagan over the last few weeks, wanting to pitch a story and asking for fax information. This morning, a few hours after the shooting, they received a 23-page fax from someone IDing themselves as Flanagan; ABC News passed that document along to the police. According to ABC News, that document, which is being referred to as Flanagan’s “manifesto,” explains his reasoning for the shooting, writing:

Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15. …

What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them. …

As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!

The writer reportedly went on to describe discrimination he faced at work and in life as a gay, Black man, and name checked the Virginia Tech shooter for committing one of the largest mass murders ever: “I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got … just sayin.'”

Given the direct connection Flanagan makes between his actions and the mass shooting at a Black church in Charleston, there will no doubt be many more hateful words than usual spilled in the comments sections across the internet in the coming days. Anticipating, or perhaps already witnessing, the ways in which Flanagan’s motives will be linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, I point you towards this piece over Huffington Post by Zena Blay, who writes:

For some, the tweets and actions of one man are enough to condemn an entire movement. Flanagan’s disgruntled, clearly disturbed mind, fueled by toxic masculinity and access to a firearm, has tainted a movement that he wasn’t, as far as we know, even affiliated with. Meanwhile, when Dylann Roof’s racially-motivated shooting in Charleston last month was largely viewed as a singular act perpetrated by  a madman, not a reflection of all white people.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement, which has been mistakenly seen by some as a movement that seeks to privilege black life above all others, is actually striving to do the opposite. #BlackLivesMatter is about acknowledging that all lives should be considered equal, highlighting the institutional inequalities and ongoing police brutality which make that simple demand impossible to realize. It questions the senseless killing of black people, but it in no way condones the killing of white people as an answer.

Lastly and most importantly, our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who lost their lives so senselessly today, and our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki Gardner, who we hope makes a full recovery.

[ABC News]

[Huffington Post]