By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA and ALAN BLINDER
August 26, 2015
ROANOKE, Va. — He was a fired television reporter with a history of conflicts at work and rage apparently stoked by racial grievances. And when he sought revenge on Wednesday, gunning down two former colleagues, he used the tools of social media to ensure that his crime was broadcast live, recorded from multiple angles and posted online.
Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, identified by the authorities as the gunman, waited until Alison Parker and Adam Ward, young journalists at WDBJ in Roanoke, were on air, then killed them while recording on his own video camera. Mr. Flanagan shot himself in the head hours later, the authorities said, but as the chase for him was on, he wrote about the shooting on Twitter, uploaded his video to Facebook and sent a manifesto to ABC News that spoke admiringly of mass killers and said that as a black, gay man he had faced discrimination and sexual harassment. The shooting and the horrifying images it produced marked a new chapter in the intersection of video, violence and social media.
The day began with the most mundane of early-morning interviews. Ms. Parker and Mr. Ward were working on a story for WDBJ about the 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake, a reservoir tucked among farms and rolling mountains that is a popular with anglers, kayakers and sunbathers. They stood on a balcony of Bridgewater Plaza, a shopping and office complex on the lakeshore, talking with Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Around 6:45 a.m., the shooting began.
A video still of Alison Parker, left, interviewing Vicki Gardner, a local official, just before both were shot during a live broadcast. Ms. Parker and the cameraman Adam Ward were killed.
The station’s own disturbing video shows Ms. Parker screaming and stumbling backward as the shots ring out and a set of jumbled images as the camera falls to the floor. Eight shots can be heard before the broadcast cut back to the stunned anchor at the station, Kimberly McBroom.
Shortly afterward, Mr. Flanagan wrote on Twitter, “I filmed the shooting see Facebook,” and a shocking 56-second video recording, which appeared to be taken by a body camera worn by the gunman, was posted to his Facebook …Read More