Yesterday I saw something I hoped I would never see happen.
Someone shot and killed a television reporter and cameraman live on the air.
It is a television journalist’s worst nightmare.
24-year old Alison Parker was the reporter.
27-year old Adam Ward was her photographer.
The journalists for WDBJ were interviewing a city official about tourism and commerce when 41-year old Vester Flanagan walked up, open fire and unloaded 15 rounds into the three victims, emptying the gun’s entire magazine.
The two journalists died at the scene.
The city official is in critical condition.
Vester Flanagan whose TV name was Bryce Williams was a disgruntled former reporter who had worked with both journalists at the same station before being fired for erratic behavior.
The station’s managers and his co-workers say Flanagan was fired because he had become increasingly difficult to work with.
They say he wasn’t a good on-air reporter.
But Flanagan saw it differently.
In a manifesto he reportedly sent to ABC News, Flanagan says he had been discriminated against because he was black and gay.
He reportedly wrote in the manifesto that he had been attacked his entire life by white women and black men.
The station’s general manager says that Flanagan had even filed suit against the station claiming racial discrimination.
The GM, station managers and fellow employees say the claims were nonsense.
A judge later threw out the claim.
In fact, in 2000, Flanagan had filed a similar claim against a Tallahassee television station which, according to his attorney, was settled.
Right after yesterday’s double murder, Flanagan, using his TV name, Bryce Williams, tweeted out his frustrations and posted videos of the shooting.
He wrote on twitter, “Alison made racist comments…. EEOC report filed… They hired her after that??? Adam went to HR on me after working with me one time…. I filmed the shooting see Facebook.”
Fellow employees of WDBJ say Flanagan not only became increasingly difficult to work with but became almost paranoid, obsessed with being a victim of homophobia and/or racism.
His former colleagues of all different ethnicities say they never saw any type of discrimination towards Mr. Flanagan, just that he was a bad reporter.
Psychologists say Flanagan used racism as a cover for his own shortcomings and in so doing his downfall became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The discussion about Flanagan has mainly centered on mental health and whether Flanagan was mentally ill.
The other, lesser discussion, has been whether he was racist.
If one looks objectively at Flanagan’s actions and history, one can’t help but come to the conclusion that both are probably true.
Flanagan killed the two young people because they were white.
He admitted as much.
And yes, anyone who does what he did was also out of their mind.