Breaking News Emails
The family of a former TV reporter who gunned down two ex-colleagues during a live broadcast reacted with grief and sadness Wednesday.
"It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we express our deepest condolences to the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. We are also praying for the recovery of Vicki Gardner,” the family of gunman Vester Flanagan said in a statement.
"Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the victims' families and the WBDJ7 NEWS family," the statement said. "Words cannot express the hurt that we feel for the victims."
Vester Lee Flanagan II fatally shot reporter Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, as they conducted a live television interview at around 6:43 a.m. at a shopping center in Moneta, Virginia, police said. The woman Parker was interviewing, Vicki Gardner, was also shot and is in stable condition after surgery.
Flanagan, 41, shot himself at around 11:30 a.m. as Virginia State Police pursued his rented Chevrolet Sonic on Interstate 66 in northern Virginia, and he died at Inova Fairfax Hospital around two hours later, authorities said.
A friend of the family wouldn't answer questions outside a Vallejo, California, home Wednesday, and said the family requested privacy at this time.
The friend, Amber Bowman, who went to high school with Flanagan, said of the killings: "It’s a shock to everyone."
As police were looking for Flanagan Wednesday, he apparently posted video of the shooting to social media under the name Bryce Williams. Bryce Williams was the name Flanagan used on air.
Authorities described Flanagan as a disgruntled employee. He was fired from WBDJ, located in Roanoke, in February of 2013 after a series of confrontations with other co-workers and poor performance.
A man claiming to be Flanagan sent a 23-page fax to ABC News in which he referenced discrimination at work and the June massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, and saying: "I've been a human powder keg for a while ... just waiting to go BOOM!!!!" NBC News has not confirmed that Flanagan sent the fax.
When Flanagan was fired, police were called to physically remove him from the building. Ward recorded the incident and Flanagan was upset and insulted him, according to employee records.
The station was worried enough that they instructed employees to "call 911 immediately" if he showed up at the station, and off-duty police officers were posted outside the building for two days after his firing, records say.