(FAIRFAX, Va.) — The man who authorities said fatally shot a reporter and a cameraman during a live report in Virginia Wednesday morning had taken steps ahead of the attack, according to details from investigators and the 23-page suicide note someone claiming to be him sent to ABC News.
According to police, the shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan II, who used the name Bryce Williams on air, died Wednesday afternoon as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot hours after the attack on the crew at the station that he was fired from two years ago.
Here is what is believed about his actions during the months leading up to Wednesday’s shooting.
June 19, 2015
According to the letter that was faxed to ABC News Wednesday morning, the author wrote that he was motivated by the massacre at Charleston, SC church and took steps to buy a gun two days later.
“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15.”
The author wrote that: “what sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”
“The church shooting was the tipping point… but my anger has been building steadily… I’ve been a human powder keg for a while… just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”
It was not clear how or when the gunman obtained the firearm that was used in the shooting.
Earlier in August
Virginia State Police Sgt. Rick Garletts said Flanagan, 41, rented a Chevrolet Sonic earlier this month.
In the past few weeks, a man who identified himself as “Bryce Williams” began contacting ABC News saying that he wanted to pitch a story and requesting a fax number. He never told ABC News about the content of the story.
6:43 a.m. Wednesday
Garletts said that the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call about the gunshots heard fired at Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake.
A WDBJ crew, made up of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, were doing a live interview at that location. The footage was aired live, and viewers heard gunshots.
Ward’s fiancee worked as a producer for the morning news program and was in the station’s control room when the footage aired.
Authorities said Flanagan fled the scene in his vehicle, a 2009 Ford Mustang.
The 23-page suicide note was received at a fax machine in ABC News’ New York headquarters.
The man identifying himself as Williams called ABC News again, and introduced himself as “Bryce,” but also said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan, and that he had shot two people. While on the phone, he said authorities are “after me,” and “all over the place.” He hung up. ABC News contacted the authorities immediately and provided them with the fax.
Just Before 11 a.m.
Police tracked the Mustang to the Roanoke regional airport.
Garletts said that Flanagan then left the airport Wednesday in the Chevrolet Sonic.
Williams began posting messages on his Twitter account, detailing alleged grievances that he had with people he identified as “Alison” and “Adam,” noting that he posted a video of the shooting on Facebook. It has since been taken down.
He posted a series of five tweets over the span of three minutes.
Just Before 11:30 a.m.
A Virginia state police trooper used a license plate reader, which identified a Chevrolet Sonic traveling east on Interstate 66 as the one that had been rented to Flanagan.
“She followed the vehicle a short distance as troopers responded to assist her before she activated her lights,” Garletts said.
Backup arrived and she tried to get the vehicle to stop, using emergency equipment like sirens, but Garletts said he sped away.
“It was only a minute or two later when the Sonic ran off the road into the median,” Garletts said.
Flanagan was found in the car by the trooper, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was airlifted to a hospital in Fairfax.
Flanagan died at the Inova Fairfax Hospital as a result of the self-inflicted wound.
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