MONETA, VA (WWBT) - A man who shot and killed a WDBJ7 reporter and photographer on live television Wednesday morning has died at the hospital, according to authorities.
The death of Vester Lee Flanagan from a self-inflicted gunshot wound was announced by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. He was previously listed in very critical condition at the Fairfax Inova Hospital after shooting himself on Interstate 66, according to State Police.
Sheriffs say officers found Flanagan's car at the Roanoke Regional Airport. They later found he was in a Chevy Sonic he rented earlier this month. Police spotted the Sonic headed east on I-66 just before 11:30 a.m. and tried to pull him over. Instead, police say he sped off, ran off the road and crashed. When troopers got to the vehicle, Flanagan was suffering from life-threatening injuries from a gunshot wound. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
The crew was reporting live for WDBJ7, the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, around 6:45 a.m. at Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake. They were working on a feature story about the 50th anniversary of the lake when the shooting occurred. On the video you can hear several shots fired before photographer, Adam Ward, appears to fall to the ground while the reporter, Alison Parker, screams.
ABC News posted on Twitter that it received a 23-page fax from someone who says he is Bryce Williams. The organization turned it over to authorities.
A Facebook and Twitter account linked to Williams posted several comments and videos hours after the shooting. In the posts, Williams complained "Alison made racists comments" and "Adam went to HR" and said he filed EEOC complaints. The accounts have since been suspended.
Flanagan also worked at WTWC in Tallahassee, WNCT in Greenville, NC and Raycom-owned station WTOC-TV in Savannah, GA. NBC12 is also owned by Raycom Media. He began working at WDBJ in 2012.
Investigators released a photo of a suspect in the shooting deaths of a reporter and photographer during a live report on Wednesday morning.The photo is a still frame from the video of the live report and provides a grainy image of the gunman who killed the Roanoke TV reporter and photojournalist during a live television interview on Wednesday morning.
Parker was 24 years old and a graduate of James Madison University. She was dating an anchor at WDBJ, Chris Hurst, and worked as an intern at the station before returning in the past year as a reporter, according to WDBJ.
Ward was 27 years old and a graduate of Virginia Tech. He was engaged to the station's morning producer, Melissa Ott and the two were getting ready to move out of Virginia. Ott was producing her final newscast at the station and the crew was celebrating her last day, according to WDBJ. Ward had contemplated getting out of the news business.
"We've lost members of our family," anchor Jean Jadhon said on-air.
About 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil late Wednesday, just minutes down the street from the crime scene.
Members of the Vitalize Church placed candles in the center of the crowd, shaped like a heart as the sun set in the distance.
"The heart represents the love we have for Alison and Adam, as well as the love that will help this community to persevere, said Pastor Tony Gray in an interview Wednesday.
"The word to describe my emotions is 'surreal.' Alison was just full of joy. Seeing her made the news light up in the morning."
A young man with only a guitar stood before the crowd, leading a rendition of "Amazing Grace," followed by moments of prayer.
"Our love will conquer this evil," Gray said. "And we thank God for the joy of having Adam and Alison in our lives."