Vester Flanagan's family apologizes following on-air TV shootings in Virginia

By Maria Coder
Updated August 27, 2015 10:15 AM

The family of a disgruntled former journalist suspected of gunning down a reporter and a cameraman during a live TV broadcast has issued an apology expressing their shock and sadness at the killings.

“It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we express our deepest condolences to the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. We are also praying for the recovery of Vicki Gardner,” Amber Bowen, a representative for the family of Vester Flanagan (a.k.a. Bryce Williams) told reporters Wednesday night. She fought back tears as she read the statement outside the home of Vester Flanagan II’s father in Vallejo, California.

“Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the victims’ families and the WBDJ7 NEWS family,” she added. “Words cannot express the hurt that we feel for the victims,” read the statement, NBC News reports.

Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were fatally shot on Wednesday morning at a shopping center in Moneta, Virginia, as they taped a live interview about local tourism. A third victim, Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back as she tried to escape. She is in stable condition following surgery at a local hospital.

Police have identified Flanagan, 41, as the suspect in the brutal shootings. Police pursued his rented Chevrolet along Interstate 66 – he ultimately crashed the car and turned the gun on himself. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

As police were looking for Flanagan, he allegedly posted video of the shootings on social media. Someone claiming to be Bryce Williams (his on-air name) sent a 23-page fax to ABC News mentioning discrimination at work and referring to himself as “a human powder keg” that’s “just waiting to go BOOM!!!!” The fax was immediately shared with police.

Before the Twitter account was taken down, the user posted a Tweet, saying: “I filmed the shooting see Facebook.” That Facebook account has also been suspended.

The user also claimed that Parker “made racist comments” and wrote that “Adam went to hr on me after working with me one time!!!”

Flanagan worked at WDBJ7, but was fired two years ago, according to the TV station. Jeffrey Marks, WDBJ’s vice president and general manager, described Flanagan him “an unhappy man” and “difficult to work with,” according to the AP. Marks said police had to escort Flanagan out of the station when he was fired and that he told staff to call 911 if he showed up. He denied that Flanagan was treated unfairly or discriminated against.

He said Williams filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging racism at the station, but that the EEOC had “dismissed the claim out of hand, and that was that.”

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.