A disgruntled former news reporter who shot dead two of his ex-coworkers during a live TV segment has died after committing suicide.
Viewers of WDBJ, a small CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, US, watched in horror as Vester Lee Flanagan II shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on live TV as the two were filming a light-hearted segment.
After carrying out the shocking on-air execution, Flanagan rented a car at the airport and then started driving east.
Police finally cornered Flanagan just before noon, about three hours northeast, in Fauquier County, Virginia, but he refused to stop and sped away from troopers.
Flanagan then crashed the car off the road and when police surrounded the vehicle, they found him suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He later passed away at a hospital in Northern Virginia.
Before he was caught by police, Flanagan took to Twitter to explain his reasons for killing his former coworkers.
Flanagan, who is African American, wrote that Parker made "racist comments" and that a complaint was filed against her through the equal employment opportunity commission, but his station chose to hire her anyway.
As for Ward, Flanagan says that after working with the cameraman once, Ward complained to HR about the former general assignment reporter. It's unclear what exactly happened between the two men.
But the most shocking post of all was a video Flanagan took of the attack, which he shared on his Twitter.The chilling clip is taken from Flanagan's point of view and shows him approaching the two journalists as they were interviewing Vicki Gardner, the local chamber of commerce.
He opens fire first on Ward and then turns to kill Parker. Parker and Ward died at the scene while Gardner was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery and is now in stable condition.
After posting the graphic video of the attack, Flanagan's Twitter account was suspended.
Flanagan also allegedly contact ABC News after the attack, sending the news network a 23 page document elaborating on his motivations, saying he wanted revenge for the Charleston church shooting and was inspired by infamous mass shooters like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
ABC says a man by the name of Bryce Williams first contacted them a few weeks ago, wanting to pitch a story but he wouldn't say what it was about.
This morning, that same man contacted them again, sending them a fax two hours after the shooting.
In the fax,described as a suicide note to friends and family, Flanagan says he became angered after the Charleston church shooting and that Jehovah made him act.
"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... What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims' initials on them.
"As for Dylann Roof? You [redacted]! You want a race war [redacted]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE ...[redacted]!!!"
At the same time, he professes a deep respect for other mass shooters like Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho.
"Also, I was influenced by Seung-Hui Cho [the Virginia Tech shooter]. That's my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got...just sayin."
He goes on to say that he has faced both racial and sexual discrimination as a black, gay man and that he was just waiting to explode.
"Yes, it will sound like I am angry...I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace... 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!!!!"
Flanagan previously worked as a multimedia and general assignment reporter at WDBJ. The station's manager told CNN that Flanagan left the station about two years ago, but that he still lived in the community. He did not go into detail about whether Flanagan was fired or quit on his own accord.
It's then believed that Flanagan fled to the airport, where he picked up a rental car to evade police. All morning, alerts went out across western Virginia, warning that the gunman was on the loose. He was finally brought to a stop in Fauquier County, about three hours northeast of Moneta, just before noon. Reports first stated that Flanagan had committed suicide, but authorities changed their statement to say that he was still alive. Nevertheless, he passed away at a hospital in northern Virginia.
Family and friends heartbroken
Both Parker and Ward were in relationships with other employees at the news station. Ward was engaged to Melissa Ott, a news producer who was working on the show that morning and watched from the control room as the shooting happened.
Parker was in a relationship with anchor Chris Hurst who said in tweets that although the two didn't share their relationship publicly, they were in love and had just moved in together.
Hurst tweeted: "We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday. "
He also tweeted about the second victim, Ward, saying that Parker "worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee."
Hurst described the TV station as a family, tweeting: "I am comforted by everyone at @WDBJ7."
Parker's father says his grief over his daughter's death is "unbearable".
Andy Parker told The Washington Post that his wife first learned of the shooting in a text message from WDBJ-TV, the station for which his 24-year-old daughter Alison worked. He says they did not know her condition at first but feared the worst when they didn't hear from her.
Andy Parker says she would have called immediately to say she was OK. About an hour after the shooting, a senior manager at the station called the family to say Alison Parker had been killed.
NZ policies constantly reviewed
A TVNZ spokesperson says it takes the health and safety of its employees very seriously.
"We continue to review and update our policies, particularly with respect to news gathering both in our offices and out in the field."
- Daily Mail with additional reporting from AP