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The newsroom of WDBJ was still grappling with what had just happened — the shooting of two journalists, live on the air — when the station’s chief photographer walked over to the general manager and said: “You have to see this.”
Coworkers gathered and looked at a chilling image, captured by cameraman Adam Ward as he lay dying. It was the killer, looking into the lens and pointing his gun.
“Everybody who was gathered around it said, ‘That’s Vester,’” the general manager, Jeffrey Marks, told TODAY in a live interview on Thursday. “And I wasn’t sure. They were.”
He said the station immediately passed the information to the county sheriff, helping authorities identify Vester Flanagan, fired from the station two years earlier after other WDBJ employees found him difficult to work with.
The shooting happened at a Moneta, Virginia, shopping center at about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday. The reporter, Alison Parker, and Ward were killed, and a local businesswoman who was being interviewed was shot and wounded.
About four hours later, police found Flanagan’s car at the airport. He had rented a car before the shootings, Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton said. A state trooper spotted the rental car on Interstate 66 using a license-plate reader and gave chase.
Flanagan ran off the road, shot himself and died at a hospital about two hours later.