WDBJ shooter's former news directors describe past complaints

WDBJ shooter's former news directors describe past complaints

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Past news directors of Vester Lee Flanagan are speaking out about what they describe as anger issues and odd behavior from the alleged shooter of two Virginia journalists. Flanagan's employment history includes several complaints and firings.

Flanagan's being called a disgruntled employee. His actions Wednesday come more than two years after he was fired from WDBJ.

Flanagan, who went by Bryce Williams on air, was hired on to WDBJ as a reporter in May of 2012. But he would only make it a few months before being fired by the station's then-news director, Dan Dennison, in February 2013.

Dennison calls it the toughest termination they ever had. Dennison says Flanagan filed numerous complaints about co-workers throughout his short time there.

"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," said Dennison.

Flanagan outlined some of them in his 23-page fax to ABC News shortly after the shooting. But Dennison says the complaints had no standing.

There were complaints about Flanagan too.

"He seemed to have a short fuse if something didn't go his way. He didn't fit in because people found it difficult to work with him," said WDBJ general manager, Jeff Marks.

Flanagan was eventually let go in 2013, but not without a fight.

"We had to get some assistance from the police to get him out of here," said Marks.

This wasn't Flanagan's first time being fired. The 41-year-old had worked in several markets over a 20-year period, including Tallahassee, Florida.

"He was a good on-air performer, a pretty good reporter. And then things started getting a little strange with him," said former WTWC news director, Don Shafer.

His "odd behavior" got him fired from WTWC the same year he was hired in 2000. Flanagan later sued the station for discrimination.

"You just never know, when you're going to work how a potentially unhinged or unsettled person might impact your life in such a tragic way as we saw in Roanoke this morning," said Dennison.

Flanagan had a past confrontation with one of NBC12's reporters who used to work with him at WDBJ. NBC12 was placed on lockdown Wednesday for safety reasons, until knowing the threat was over.

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