WDBJ shooter Vester Flanagan has died at a Virginia hospital after fatally shooting two of the station’s journalists during a live broadcast on Wednesday morning.
Flanagan died at approximately 1:30 p.m. ET from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Following the shooting, Flanagan fled in his Ford Mustang, which police recovered after he dumped it in favor of a Chevy Sonic he rented earlier this month. Attempts to stop Flanagan’s vehicle were unsuccessful.
At an afternoon press conference, Virginia State Police Sgt. Rick Garletts said the driver was noncompliant. Shortly after, the car was found crashed at the side of the road with Flanagan inside, suffering from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
On how Flanagan knew where to find the WDBJ journalists, Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton said police are “tying to discover” that piece of information. Police concluded Flanagan was “spiraling out of control” before shooting reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27.
“This gentleman was disturbed in some way … it appears things were spiraling out of control,” Overton continued, later declining to comment on a reporter’s question about what role race may have played in the tragedy.
A rant was posted earlier Wednesday to Flanagan’s Twitter and Facebook accounts about the station journalists who were shot and killed.
“It certainly goes to show where the gentleman’s mind was the night before … there was some forethought as to the chain of events that happened,” Overton said, without confirming whether or not a video from the gunman’s perspective that was posted to social media shortly after the shooting was uploaded by Flanagan.
“Both Parker and Ward were residents of Roanoke, VA … they were part of our community. We don’t want to forget that,” Overton concluded.
Earlier, Virginia State Police posted the following update on Facebook: “Shortly before 11:30 a.m., Virginia State Police spotted the suspect vehicle headed eastbound on Interstate 66. With emergency lights activated the Virginia State Police trooper initiated a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle refused to stop and sped away from the trooper. Minutes later, the suspect vehicle ran off the road and crashed. The troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound. He is being transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.”
Flanagan was a reporter for the station who filed a complaint against Parker alleging she made racially offensive comments about him. Station manager Jeffrey Marks said Parker’s colleagues supporter her, saying there was no validity to the claims. Flanagan was fired from the station in February, 2013 and was reportedly escorted out of the newsroom by security.
He reportedly filed similar complaints at other stations at which he was employed. Marks said Flanagan was known as an angry person around the station and was not easy to work with. He also said he doesn’t know how he feels about his fate.
“I’m not really sure whether I want him to live or die.”