Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, the gay black shooter who murdered WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, who were white, started his mercurial journalistic career working for KPIX in San Francisco in 1993 as an intern.
Flanagan graduated from San Francisco State University in 1995 with a degree in radio/TV broadcasting, according to KSBW. At KPIX, he later worked as a freelance production assistant. Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint told The San Francisco Chronicle that Flanagan attended Redwood Heights Elementary School, Montera Middle School and graduated from Skyline High School in 1991.
After KPIX, Flanagan worked at several news stations, eventually landing at Florida’s WTWC-TV; he was fired after threatening fellow employees, according to former news director Don Shafer. Shafer stated, “He threatened to punch people out and he was kind of running fairly roughshod over other people in the newsroom.”
Flanagan subsequently sued WTWC for race discrimination, claiming that a producer called him a “monkey” in 1999. He also alleged that workers had used the same epithet for other black employees, and that an unnamed white supervisor at the station called blacks lazy for eschewing the use of scholarships for college. A settlement was later reached.
Flanagan worked for a year at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. before he joined a news station in Greenville, N.C.
Flanagan, a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ7 who had to be escorted out of the building by police after he was fired, according to former new director Dan Dennison, murdered Parker and Ward during a live morning broadcast on Monday as they were interviewing Chamber of Commerce employee Vicki Gardner. Flanagan also shot Gardner; she was taken to a hospital, where she underwent surgery and is expected to survive. Flanagan videotaped the murders, and later committed suicide.
Dennison added that Flanagan had “a long series of complaints against co-workers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station. All of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. And they were largely along racial lines, and we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man.”
Flanagan had said he wanted a race war. A source told The Telegraph, “In a raid on the apartment on Wednesday, police reportedly confiscated a gay pride flag. They also found ‘many’ sex toys, which may have ‘human material’ on them.”