The station manager of WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Virginia said police were called several years ago on shooting suspect Vester Lee Flanagan after they fired him for being difficult to work with. He also said Flanagan once filed a complaint accusing the station of racism, something he believes was “fabricated.”
Jeff Marks, WDBJ7’s general manager, appeared on set Wednesday to discuss the victims and suspect of the murder that was caught on live television. The station’s two journalists slain on-air were Alison Parker and Adam Ward, both shot by the suspect, 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan, a former station reporter who went by Bryce Williams on-air.
“I’ll tell you what I know,” Marks said. “Vester was an unhappy man. We employed him as a reporter and he had some talent in that respect and some experience, although he had been out of the business for a while. When he was hired here, he quickly gathered a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with. He was sort of looking out for people to say things that he could take offense to.”
“And eventually,” Marks continued, “after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. And he did not take that well. We had to call the police to escort him from the building.”
Marks recalled how Vester later filed a complaint with the government accusing the station’s employees of racism but said “we think they were fabricated.”
“He then filed an action with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission,” Marks said. “Which he made all types of complaints. And there may have been one about Alison or Adam, I frankly don’t remember. But about members of the staff. Making racial comments. He was African-American.”
“And none of them could be corroborated by anyone,” the station manager said. “We think they were fabricated. But just as an insurance policy, we went around and talked to all of our employees, who might have been able to be exposed to this. And we have a pretty diverse workplace, and we got nothing about that. And the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission dismissed the claim out of hand. And that was that.”
Following the shooting, social media accounts with Vester’s name published videos of the shooting of Parker and Ward. He also complained about both employees on Twitter.
Vester, according to reports, is in route to the hospital after shooting himself.