Wig, ammunition, 'to-do' list found in WDBJ shooter's car

Wig, ammunition, 'to-do' list found in WDBJ shooter's car
Police say Vester Flanagan killed a WDBJ news crew before later killing himself. (Credit: NBC12)
Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed by a gunman during a live TV interview on Wednesday (Souce: WDBJ7)
Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed by a gunman during a live TV interview on Wednesday (Souce: WDBJ7)

ROANOKE, VA (WWBT) - More details are emerging about the man who shot three people during a television news live shot in Roanoke, killing a reporter and photojournalist, while injuring the third person.

Investigators have learned Vester Lee Flanagan legally purchased the gun he used in Wednesday's slayings. Nothing in his background had disqualified him from owning the firearm.

Authorities also searched the car he ditched after the shootings and found a wig, six magazines of ammunition, and a to-do list inside.

In the 23-page fax Flanagan sent to ABC News after the shootings, he blamed WDBJ7 for causing an "awful chain of events." He says he even killed cats in a forest "because of them."

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed on live TV on Wednesday by Flanagan, a former reporter at the station. Flanagan later shot himself on Interstate 66 and died at the hospital, according to authorities.

With the station staff standing behind him -- many wearing maroon and teal ribbons in honor of Parker and Ward -- WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks answered questions outside the TV station during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Marks said staff members had seen Flanagan several times in the two-and-a-half years since his firing, but never had any issues until Wednesday's deadly shooting.

Marks said the station used the same screening and background check process for Flanagan as it had with other employees, but ran into issues with his performance shortly after hiring him in 2012. Flanagan was placed on successive performance improvement plans over his year at the station, but showed little improvement each time.

His issues with conduct and news judgment led to his firing in 2013, Marks said. The final warning came after Flanagan failed to properly check facts during a report. Flanagan later filed a civil action in Roanoke court, but it was later dismissed.

After the firing staff members reported seeing Flanagan several times around town, but never had any issues with him. Marks said management was at a loss as to what happened to Flanagan in the past two-and-a-half years.

Flanagan, who reported under the name Bryce Williams left his car at the Roanoke Regional Airport. Authorities 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.

Parker, a reporter, and Ward, a photojournalist, were reporting live for WDBJ7, the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday 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 Ward appears to fall to the ground while Parker screams.

WDBJ confirmed the victims' identities during a live update around 8:45 a.m. Vicki Gardner from the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce was being interviewed at the time of the shooting, and was shot in the back, reports CNN. WDBJ reports she is now out of surgery and in stable condition.

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.

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.

TRIBUTES: Leave your thoughts and prayers for the WDBJ crew

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."

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved