Vester Lee Flanagan II unleashed a barrage of 17 shots during what authorities called a “well-planned and premeditated” attack Wednesday that took the lives of two television journalists during a live broadcast in the Roanoke, Va., area.
Flanagan left no indication of his intended destination or any other planned actions when he fled the scene, where WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were killed and a woman was injured, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Hours later, police caught up to Flanagan’s car, and he shot himself.
Flanagan closely identified with perpetrators of domestic mass murder and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, authorities said, but he apparently acted alone and did not appear to share his plans for the attack with anyone.
The fresh details in the horrific shooting emerged Friday after the sheriff’s office, Virginia State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the FBI spent 48 hours combing through documents and evidence recovered from Flanagan’s apartment and interviewing many of his friends, family members and former colleagues.
Flanagan, 41, a disgruntled former reporter at WDBJ7 in Roanoke, shot Parker, Ward and an official from a local chamber of commerce whom they were interviewing during a broadcast about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Shouts and shots can be heard on video of the shooting captured by Ward’s camera, and Parker can be seen trying to flee from Flanagan. Flanagan also recorded a video of the shooting and uploaded it to Facebook.
The Virginia state medical examiner said Friday that Parker and Ward were shot in the head and torso.
Vicki Gardner, the chamber of commerce official the TV crew was interviewing, was fired on three times, her husband said Friday. “She was trying to dodge everything,” Tim Gardner told “Good Morning America.” “He missed twice.”
Tim Gardner said his wife threw herself to the ground and curled up in a ball. Flanagan then shot her in the back. Tim Gardner said that Flanagan pulled the trigger three times but that only one shot was fired. Gardner said that after the gunman fled, his wife walked to an ambulance because she did not know the extent of her injuries. His wife is recovering from her injuries, he said.
Officers from the Virginia State Police found Flanagan driving on Interstate 66 in Fauquier County nearly five hours later. He refused to pull over, and then his car crashed. They discovered that he had shot himself, and he died at a hospital.
Inside the rented car, investigators found evidence detailing the extent of Flanagan’s planning. There was a to-do list, 17 stamped letters, a wig, three license plates and ammunition, according to a search warrant filed in a Fauquier County court. It was revealed Friday that state police also discovered two Glock handguns in the rented vehicle.
Investigators said Flanagan was not wearing body armor when he was found in his car, but they are still investigating whether he wore protective gear during the shooting. Tim Gardner said in his interview with “Good Morning America” that Flanagan wore protective gear.
A report filed in Roanoke City Circuit Court after the execution of a search warrant also revealed Friday that an associate producer from WDBJ7, Dave Seidel, initially identified Flanagan as the shooter.
The search warrant was issued for officers to examine Flanagan’s apartment. The court filing says authorities recovered black gloves, documents, clothing, written notes, printed pictures and vehicle keys.
Flanagan wrote in a rambling 22-page letter sent to ABC News that the attack was spurred by the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., this summer. He also claimed on Twitter that Parker had made racist comments and that Ward had reported him to human resources when he worked at WDBJ7. Station officials have said there is no indication that any employee mistreated Flanagan.