Shooter’s Suicide Note Indicates His Actions Stemmed From Racism & Revenge
Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, murdered a WDBJ-TV reporter and a cameraman early Wednesday morning in Virginia by shooting them at close range while they were on location. Reportedly, Williams faxed a suicide letter and manifesto to ABC News detailing his justifications for taking two innocent lives and hurting countless others with the loss of their loved ones. Apparently, he was a selfish, mentally ill racist, hell-bent on revenge.
According to ABC News, a man who identified himself as Bryce Williams contacted them weeks ago to say he had a story to pitch and obtained the network’s fax number. This morning ABC received the 23-page fax at time stamped 8:26 a.m. local time, approximately two hours after the shooting. At around 10:00 a.m., Williams placed a call to the network and identified himself as his T.V. name, Bryce Williams, but also provided his real name, Vester Lee Flanagan. He stated during that phone call that he had shot two people this morning and that law enforcement was “after me” and “all over the place.” ABC contacted the authorities immediately after Williams hung up and provided them with the 23-page document.
The fax indicates that Williams murdered Alison Parker and Adam Ward for reasons of revenge over the allegedly racist massacre at EAM Episcopal Church in Charleston.
From the article published on ABC News:
“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.”
It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.
Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, 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.’”
In an often rambling letter to the authorities, and family and friends, he writes of a long list of grievances. In one part of the document, Williams calls it a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family.”
- He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work
- He says he has been attacked by black men and white females
- He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man
“Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”
“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!!!!”
Obviously Flanagan/Williams had deep-seated mental issues which weren’t blatantly noticeable. However, he had a reputation for making complaints over alleged racism and trying to bait his co-workers into making comments which he could use against them.
In 2013, Williams was apparently fired from WDBJ 7 News in Roanoke, Virginia for being “difficult to work with.” According to BuzzFeed, the station’s general Manager Jeff Marks made statements about Williams’ termination during a live broadcast on Wednesday.
“Vester [Bryce] was an unhappy man. We employed him as a reporter and he had some talent in that respect and some experience,” Marks said. “He quickly gathered a reputation of someone who was difficult to work with. He was sort of looking out to people to say things he could take offense to. Eventually, after many incidents of his anger, we dismissed him. He did not take that well. We had to call police to escort him from the building.”
Former co-workers and managers stated that he had issues with job performance and would sometimes act in a threatening manner toward other employees. BuzzFeed also provides a link to documents chronicling Flanagan/Williams’ erratic behavior along with some further comments and excerpts from those internal memos. One of which contained a reccommendation that Flanagan/Williams go to WDBJ’s health advocate to seek counseling
“On three separate occasions in the past month and a half you have behaved in a manner that has resulted in one or more of your co-workers feeling threatened or uncomfortable,” Dan Dennison, who at the time was WDBJ’s news director, reportedly wrote to Flanagan in one of the memos.
On the day of his firing, according to the memos, Flanagan became so agitated that “several members of the sales team [took]shelter in a locked office.”
Flanagan eventually had to be escorted from the building by police. As he was escorted out, he told officers that his co-workers had left a watermelon in the hallway for a week and “basically called [him]a n****r.”
No instances of Flanagan/Williams’ reports of racial discrimination at any of his previous employment positions have been corroborated. In fact, many former co-workers have stated that he made them all up.
“He had some conflicts with some people in the studio and in the control room,” San Diego 6 News Director Don Shafer, who was Flanagan’s former WTWC boss at the time of the suit, told BuzzFeed News.
“But they were certainly nothing like pulling a gun on anyone or anything,” he added, emphasizing that the conflicts were never race related.
Eventually, the conflicts resulted in Flanagan’s firing, Shafer said.
“I wasn’t surprised that he sued us,” he said. “He was just looking to get something out of being terminated, but there was nothing to his claims.”
After he was dismissed from WDBJ, Flanagan/Williams filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against the station alleging racism. He had also filed a similar complaint with the EEOC against a Tallahassee, Florida NBC affiliate in 2000 after he was fired from that station as well. There are conflicting reports on the final outcome of the complaints. More