Murderer Yester Lee Flanagan II, aka Bryce Williams (perhaps a play on the name Bryan Williams?), complained in a 23-page rant that he faxed to ABC News 90 minutes after he slaughtered WDBJ reporter, 24 year-old Alison Parker, and cameraman, 27 year-old Adam Ward, in cold-blood that he was a victim of racial and sexual harassment.
A third victim, Vicki Gardner, whom Parker was interviewing as part of piece on tourism, survived a shot in the back, when she turned in horror from the Smartphone camera-toting gunman. As Ward fell, he managed to capture a screenshot of the murderer before he died and the camera fell to the deck of the balcony on which they were recording.
The quality of the screenshot was poor. In the shadow of the balcony, with the camera lights (which were located on a separate, stationery tripod) flaring out his already light-brown skin, he, ironically, looked white. In the brief seconds in which the camera caught him walking past, one (me for one) could have (and did) mistake him for a woman, due to the blue of the coat or jacket he was wearing. As it turns out, the cameraman was wearing the same color, which may have been a station-oriented piece of clothing.
Having done his evil deed for the day, locating the pair after their first early-morning broadcast, he drove off in his car. Police say that his filthy apartment was filled with disguises, indicating a well-planned execution.
Flanagan then switched to a rental car and drove north on I-81/66. On that five-hour drive, he downloaded his own video of the murders to his Twitter and Facebook accounts. The video has a surreal look as a still of the video (haven’t watched it, don’t plan to) shows him pointing his gun at a gaping, wide-eyed Alison Parker. This monster tweeted how he etched the pair’s initials into the bullets he had planned for them.
Other Twitter and Facebook users pleaded with the two social media sites to close down his account, which they certainly did. As Flanagan headed east on I-66, apparently headed towards Washington, D.C., his car went off the road about the same time his account was closed. The episode ended with his suicide.
Flanagan was, as Rush Limbaugh expertly explained in his opening broadcast today, that the only victimization role Flanagan played was that of Affirmative Action. The policy began in the early 1970s, Limbaugh explained, when television stations were required by the FCC to hire inexperienced and often incompetent minorities as on-air personalities, to give them the desired “exposure” to satisfy what would become known as “political correctness.”
Flanagan was fired from numerous television station jobs for not only incompetence, but belligerence and imagined racial grievances which the stations claim never happened. Some have hinted that he was ridiculed for his inability to meet broadcasting standards. His inability to accept criticism got him fired, however.
WDBJ station manager Jeff Marks noted that when Flanagan was fired in 2013 for untoward outbursts in the newsroom, the police had to escort him out of the building, with Flanagan insisting that he was not going to be forced out. WDBJ employees were disconcerted to learn that Flanagan was still residing in the area.
Before his firing, he was told to seek help for mental illness or he would be terminated. Well did the station insist on this step. Flanagan proved himself to be narcisstic (pictures of himself filled his apartment), paranoid, possibly delusional, and psychopathic (according to the U.K. Daily Mail, which read and posted his manifesto – another sign of mental illness – he admitted to killing his housecats in the woods; the combination of events “made” him do it)
By noontime yesterday, most of us had had enough of this crazy man and his horrible, horrible deeds, playing over and over on television. Networks were kind enough not to replay the videos; the unfortunate Alison’s and Ms. Gardner’s screams were enough to leave this blogger depressed for the rest of the day.
One piece of good news was that Vicki Gardner survived the attack. Friends and associates said that she completely devoted to the community of Smith Mountain Lake as the head of the local Chamber of Commerce. Hurray for Ms. Gardner, and hurray for community. The associate said that she was going to come back, stronger than ever. Her husband saw her shot on live television.
Alison Parker showed every promise of being a great reporter and storyteller. Fox News played a video of her introducing herself to station WDBJ. She told a wonderful and funny story of how her parents took her to vacation in the Grand Canyon. Their guide got them to the bottom of the canyon and, telling them that he’d be right back, vanished. At the appointed time, their horses (or donkeys) took off on schedule, minus the guide, to go back to the stables at the top of the canyon, with the Parkers hanging on for all they were worth.
What a great story! How many other stories that area of Virginia as well as future viewers of other news stations will now never have the opportunity to hear, thanks to this crazy man who complained that Parker had uttered a racial epithet within his hearing. Did she? Or did she just gently recommend to him that he seek employment in a market area more in tune with his particular point-of-view? We’ll never know.
Adam Ward made the “error” of reporting the unstable Flanagan/Williams to Human Resources. Generally, “going HR” is a breach of office etiquette, especially after a first offense. Flanagan certainly complained of it in his Twitterance. One can’t help observing that Flanagan must have done something more than jerk out of the box (out of the camera frame – which subsequent videos of Flanagan doing his job show him just about to do) for Ward to report him to HR.
Both reporters were engaged to be married. Ward’s fiancee’s wedding dress arrived today. Ott also worked at the station as a producer. She watched as the shootings occurred, live. It was to be their last day at WDBJ. Parker was also leaving to take a new job.
Meanwhile, opportunistic media and politicians are taking this opportunity to “blame the gun” for the murders, a gun that Flanagan purchased legally. The blame lays squarely on the shoulders of the murderer, grimly looking down at the dying Ward as they both took one, final shot. Flanagan reminded me of Mohammed Atta; he had that same death’s head demeanor.
We may well ask why background checks for mental illness are failing. Is it reluctance of employers like WDMJ to report violent, mentally ill workers for fear of reprisal or out of sympathetic humanity? Was Flanagan arrested for disturbing the peace after he was escorted off the premises of WDMJ? Or didn’t the station want to press charges?
Is there some change of law that needs to take place so that the police can arrest such offenders without involving the employer, spouse, family, or retail establishment?
As for the racial and sexual harassment elements of this story, it’s time for the Media to cease reporting these stories. The Media needs to stop serving as the public relations arm for activist groups who stir up resentment, hostility and violence in minority communities. Yesterday, black activists posted tweets hailing Flanagan as some sort of black homosexual hero.
WDBJ’s morning anchor Jean Jadhon, who listened – and presumably watched – the killings with wide, horrified eyes – did an admirable job remaining calm and bringing the broadcast back into the studio. She called the story Parker and Ward were working on a “fluff” story, in which no violence or danger was expected, in comparison to covering riots, bank robberies or severe weather
But I think that we owe all reporters, camera operators and photographers a debt of gratitude for not only putting themselves in harm’s way, as much as soldiers, police officers and firefighters but also for reporting the “fluff stuff.”
The fluff stories, the puff pieces about real community organizers like Vicki Gardner, though considered less “newsworthy,” are as important as the gritty, hard-nosed stories about murderers like Flanagan.
His name will live now in infamy (whether we want to or not, we will remember him).
Wouldn’t it have been better if we remembered Vicki Gardner’s name, for her community efforts, and the future Alison Parker-Hurst, Emmy-winning newscaster, and Adam Ward for whatever achievements he might reached someday?
Now we’ll only remember Parker and Ward for having been murdered. May they rest in peace and their loved ones’ hearts find comfort in God.
As for Vicki Gardner, whose condition has been upgraded to good, we wish her the very best of luck in the future with a vengeance. Smith Mountain Lake is a very lucky community to have her.
“Discipline seems severe to the one forsaking the way. But whoever hates reproof will die. The Grave and the place of destruction are in full view of Jehovah. How much more so the hearts of men! The scoffer does not love the one correcting him. He will not consult the wise. A joyful heart makes for a cheerful countenance, but heartache crushes the spirit. The understanding heart seeks knowledge. But the mouth of the stupid feeds on foolishness. All the days of the afflicted one are bad.
But the one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:10-15