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Suspect in live TV show carnage dead after gunshot wound

2015-August-27       Source: Xinhuanet.com

Local authorities said Wednesday afternoon the suspect in killings of two Virginia journalists during a live TV interview earlier in the day died of gunshot wounds.

The suspected shooter, identified as Vester Flanigan, a former employee of Virginia-based WDBJ-TV, shot and wounded himself after police pursuit led to a car crash on a Virginia highway. He died later Wednesday afternoon in hospital, said the police.

Authorities said Flanigan's motive in the fatal on-air shooting of two TV journalists remained elusive. They said they did not know whether the shooting was racially motivated.

Meanwhile, Flanigan's claims of racial discrimination against two U.S. TV stations, including WDBJ-TV, surfaced Wednesday.

According to legal documents, Flanigan claimed in a federal lawsuit against Florida-based WTWC-TV in 2000 that he was called a "monkey" by a producer in 1999. He also claimed that an unnamed white supervisor at the station called black people "lazy."

Flanagan later worked for WDBJ7 in Virginia for a while under the name Bryce Williams, according to Jeffrey Marks, general manager of the TV station.

Speaking in an interview with CNN, Marks said that Flanagan once alleged that other employees made racially-tinged comments to him and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The claim was found groundless and dismissed later.

Describing Flanagan as "an unhappy man" who was difficult to work with, Marks said his TV station dismissed him about two years ago, adding that at that time police had to escort Flanagan from the building.

According to WDBJ7, the shooting happened during a live broadcast around 6:45 a.m. local time (1045 GMT) at a shopping mall in Moneta, Virginia, when its two journalists were covering a story at a recreation site called Bridgewater Plaza.

WDBJ7 identified the two slain journalists as 27-year-old photographer Adam Ward and 24-year-old TV reporter Alison Parker.

In the early part of the live broadcast, Parker was seen interviewing an woman whose identity was later confirmed to be Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Then shots were heard and both Parker and Gardner were recorded as screaming and ducking for cover. Gardner was injured but survived the incident.

Hours after the on-air shooting, one video clip of the incident was posted on a Twitter account and a Facebook page of someone under the name of Bryce Williams. The video appeared to be shot from the shooter's vantage point, showing an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Parker as she tried to run away.

Editor: Steven

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