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Update: Alleged Va. shooter uses social media to post video of killings

Sharon Gaudin | Aug. 27, 2015
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all quickly suspend accounts, take down video; Shooter dies at hospital

alison adam w.va. shooter2
WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker and video journalist Adam Ward were shot and killed Wednesday in Virginia, allegedly by a former employee of the station.

The man who allegedly shot and killed two journalists in Virginia while they were doing an on-air interview, posted video he took of the murders to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

All three social networks suspended the alleged shooter's accounts and took down the videos.

Photographer Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker, who both worked for WDBJ7, a local news station in Roanoke,Virginia, were shot and killed around 6:45 a.m. yesterday.

Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, also was shot during the attack. She was transported to a local hospital and underwent surgery yesterday.

As of 12:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, it was being reported that Gardner had survived the surgery.

The suspected shooter has been identified as Vester Lee Flanagan, who had worked at WDBJ7 as an on-air reporter. On air, Flanagan was known as Bryce Williams.

flanigan bryce williams jpg 
The alleged shooter was identified as Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of the same Virginia TV station, who reported under the name Bryce Williams. WDBJ7 TV screengrab

A manhunt for Flanagan ended yesterday morning after he apparently shot himself as police approached his car. He was reported in life-threatening condition. Later Wednesday, Brian Moran, Virginia secretary of public safety, said the shooter was pronounced dead at the hospital at 1:26 p.m, the Washington Post reported.

Since the shooting took place while the TV crew was working on-air, much of it happened live on television. As Flanagan allegedly opened fire, Ward's camera hit the ground but Parker could be heard screaming as she tried to flee.

However, that wasn't the only video of the crime. Flanagan videotaped himself approaching the three people while they were doing their on-air interview. His video also shows him opening fire.

Later this morning he posted the video to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

He also reportedly used Twitter to post disparaging tweets about Ward and Parker, alleging that Ward reported him to HR after working with him once and accused Parker of making racist comments.

The tweets cannot be verified because Twitter suspended the @bryce_williams7 account.

"I was shocked, in the sense of not having thought about the emotional impact of this kind of near real-time communication," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "But in retrospect, I'm not surprised. It was inevitable. Some criminals, especially spree killers and hostage takers, want to tell the world about their grievances, or, in some cases, just to boast. Using current self-publishing technology is just the logical outcome."

 

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