A reporter and cameramen for WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Virginia, were shot and killed Wednesday morning, during a live broadcast. The shooter was identified as Bryce Williams, who was fired from the station in 2013. He committed suicide when confronted by police.
Bryce Williams, who worked for WDBJ from March 2012 to February 2013 as a multimedia journalist, according to his LinkedIn profile.
According to internal WDBJ documents obtained by the Guardian, problems with Williams/Flanagan began shortly after he was hired.
“On three separate occasions in the past month in the past month and a half you have behaved in a manner that has resulted in on or more of your co-workers feeling threatened or uncomfortable,” news director Dan Dennison wrote in the memo, addressed to Bryce Williams, in May 2012.
In July, Dennison reprimanded Williams/Flanagan for repeated incidents of threatening coworkers. “You have been the common denominator in these and other incidents outlined previously,” the news director wrote.
“I’m not entirely sure where his head is at,” Dennison wrote to colleagues in December, noting Flanagan had one last chance to save his job.
The February 2013 termination notice cites “unsatisfactory job performance and inability to work as a team member.”
A history of violent behavior is a far stronger and more important indicator of future violent behavior than mental illness is,” Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, told RT.
There has been some movement recently on laws that might make it possible to seize weapons from individuals deemed to pose a danger to others, he added.
Williams/Flanagan has reportedly cited Charleston church shooting as a trigger for his attack on WDBJ news crew. His tweets also reveal his frustrations.
At the press conference on I-66, a representative of the Virginia state police told reporters that there hadn’t been much of a chase – “a mile and a half, maybe two” – before the suspect swerved off the road. By the time the trooper approached the car, Williams/Flanagan had shot himself.
The car was still being processed for evidence, so the authorities had no further details they could share.
While Williams/Flanagan’s full manifesto-cum-suicide note is yet to be published anywhere, and is presumably evidence in the ongoing investigation, ABC has cited excerpts.
The shooter apparently said he was suffering from racial discrimination and sexual harrassment at work, as a homosexual African-American.
“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!” Williams/Flanagan reportedly wrote.
Shortly after 2 pm Eastern US time, ABC news reported that “a man claiming to be Bryce Williams called… over the last few weeks, saying he wanted to pitch a story, and wanted to fax information.”
A 23-page fax was received at 8:26 this morning – almost two hours after Williams filmed himself shooting a WDBJ7 news crew – and said he was driven by the Charleston church shooting in June.
“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…”ABC quoted the fax message. “What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”