The family of Vester Lee Flanagan II has apologized for the killings of two on-air personalities at WDBJ television station in Roanoke, Va.
“It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness we express our deepest condolences to the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward,” Amber Bowen, a representative for Flanagan’s family, said in a statement. “We are praying for the recovery of Vicki Gardner (the third shooting victim). Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the victims' families and the WDBJ television station family.”
Flanagan, who used the name Bryce Williams when he was on air, was a former employee at WDBJ who was fired in 2013. On Wednesday morning, reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 24, were killed while taping a live interview. A third victim, Vicki Gardner, is recovering from a gunshot wound in her back.
After the shootings, he posted a video on social media and sent out a series of tweets to confirm his involvement. He shot himself after the incident and police pursued him before his car ran off the road. He died later Wednesday in the hospital.
"I've been a human powder keg for a while...just waiting to go BOOM!!!" Flanagan wrote in 23-page letter to ABC News soon after the shooting. He also revealed that he was criticized for being a gay, Black man. Flanagan wrote that he killed the reporters in response to the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
Several of his former coworkers have spoken out against him and have characterized him as angry, off-kilter and bizarre. Dan Dennison, the station’s former news director, said he had a “long series of complaints against co-workers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station.” Flanagan was escorted out of the building by police because he refused to leave, according to AP.
Others remember him a different way. ABC News talked to his junior prom date, Lorah Joe of Burbank, Calif., who remembered him as a “shy gentleman.”
"It almost feels a bit numbing because you don't think this would ever happen," she said.
“I never seen it coming,” said Dwayne Barker, 53, who lives near the home of Flanagan’s late mother. “He was very educated. For some reason he snapped.”
Virgil Barker grew up on the same street as Flanagan in Oakland, Calif., as a child.
"I know you want to hear that he was a monster, but he was the complete opposite," Barker said. "He was very, very loving."
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(Photo: WDBJ-TV via AP)
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