As reported by CNN, two journalists from WDBJ-TV in Moneta, Virginia were shot the morning of August 26 while conducting a live interview. According to police, cameraman Adam Ward and reporter Allison Parker were both fatally shot by a suspect named Vester Lee Flanagan II.
Flanagan, who also goes by the name Bryce Williams, was a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ-TV and was upset with the way he was treated by the station. While Parker was conducting an interview, Flanagan was seen walking up to Parker with his gun clearly visible and opening fire.
The entire incident was caught from a first person camera angle which Flanagan recorded himself. Later that day, he posted the video onto Twitter and Facebook, and wrote a suicide note which he faxed to media giant ABC News.
According to the ABC News report, Flanagan sent a 23 page document to the studio that included detailed grievances and excuses behind his attack.
“I’ve been a human powder keg for a while now…. Just waiting to go BOOM!” Flanagan wrote.
He also noted that the racially charged shooting of a church in Charleston, South Carolina in June played a major role in his decision to create a public spectacle.
“What sent me over the top was the church shootings,” Flanagan wrote, “and my hollow bullet points have the victims’ initials on them.”
He personally noted the Charleston, South Carolina shooter in his fax as well.
The document later stated, “As for Dylann Roof? You (expletive)! You want a race war (expletive)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE (expletive)!!!”
The fax included grievances having to do with discrimination Flanagan encountered at WDBJ for being both black and a homosexual. Flanagan claimed that he was the subject of unfair treatment in the workplace.
Sources close to the situation claimed Flanagan purchased the gun used in the shooting legally at a Virginia gun shop two days after the Charleston shooting. The glock-19 used to shoot the slain reporters was apparently inspired by the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 where the same type of gun was used.
This tragic incident has rekindled a familiar debate in Washington and around the country over stricter gun control laws. Since the mass shooting of an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been 84,523 deaths as a result of gun violence, according to a Daily News report. These incidents have created not only political, but also social unrest.
Family members of the victims have cried out in grief to increase control on firearm purchases, and social media has been taken by storm. According to surveys held by a research company justfacts.com, 40-45% of American households owned a gun as of 2010. As a whirlwind of policy issues come to fruition during the early stages of the 2016 presidential race, gun control appears to be a topic which is becoming even more prominent as yet another violent incident has taken more innocent American lives.
-Sean Ryan ’18, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor