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Suspect In VA TV Shooting Kills Himself; Was Former Reporter In Tallahassee

Former WBDJ Reporter Bryce Williams

  Update: The former Virginia journalist who killed two of his former co-workers, is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  WDBJ7-TV general manager Jeffrey Marks described Bryce Williams as a disgruntled employee who displayed "anger issues".

The shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known as Bryce Williams, previously worked in Tallahassee between 199-2000. He sued his former employer, NBC News 40/WTWC-TV in 2000 for racial discrimination.

The Tallahassee Democrat has the original lawsuit documents and report.

Vester Flanagan, who has reported for WTWC-TV since last March, said he and another black employee were referred to as "monkeys" and that a supervisor once told him that "blacks are lazy and do not take advantage of free money" for scholarships and economic opportunities. He said when he cited his own background of nearly seven years in television, going back to internships at San Francisco State University, the supervisor told him he was an "exception."

WTWC General Manager John Dittmeier issued a statement verifying Flanagan/Williams' employment at the NBC 40 station, as well as the lawsuit.

"It is true that he filed charges of discrimination which were dismissed by the EEOC and he filed a lawsuit against the station early in 2000. All issues with Mr. Flanagan were resolved in 2000," Dittmeier said.

Williams also ran into problems with other former employers.

In 2012 he was hired at WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. A release from WDBJ listed Williams' previous jobs.

"Williams joins WDBJ as a multimedia journalist and general assignment reporter. He has worked as a reporter at a number of stations throughout the South, including WNCT in Greenville, NC, WTWC in Tallahassee, and WTOC in Savannah."

According to the Roanoke Times, Williams sued WBDJ in 2013 for many of the same reasons he sued WTWC-TV in Tallahassee.

The report states:

In May 2014, Flanagan filed suit against the station in Roanoke General District Court, seeking money he felt he was owed and additional damages. His suit alleged discrimination by the station and named most of the WDBJ staff in his complaint, but in July 2014, the case was dismissed by a judge.

Williams was live tweeting and filming as he shot two WBDJ-TV reporters during a live interview segment.

In his now-deactivated facebook account, Williams alleges one of the victims, 24-year-old Alison Parker made racist comments toward him, and the videographer, 27-year-old Adam Ward, "went to HR on me after working with me one time."

*Update: Story has been updated to include response from WTWC NBC 40 in Tallahassee.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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