Man who shot Virginia journalists identified with 9/11 attacks: sheriff

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Virginia Journalists Shooter Identified With 9/11 Attacks

The gunman who killed two Virginia television journalists on air carried out a well-planned assault and identified with mass murderers and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, authorities said on Friday.

The shooter, Vester Flanagan, gave no sign of his destination or next move when he fled after gunning down the journalists from Roanoke station WDBJ7 on Wednesday, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"It is evident that Wednesday morning's attack was well-planned and premeditated" and Flanagan apparently acted alone, the statement on the shooting investigation said.

SEE MORE: Gunman in on-air deaths remembered as 'professional victim'

Flanagan, a former station employee, fired 17 rounds from a .40 caliber Glock pistol when he attacked reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward as they were conducting a live interview at Smith Mountain Lake in southwest Virginia, the statement said.

Flanagan shot himself during a police chase in northern Virginia and died. The woman who was being interviewed was wounded and hospitalized.

See images from the memorial for the WDBJ victims:

13 PHOTOS
Memorials for Virginia shooting victims
See Gallery
Man who shot Virginia journalists identified with 9/11 attacks: sheriff
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 30: An Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Healing to commemorate the lives of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward is held at the Jefferson Center in Shaftman Performance Hall in on August 30, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. The commemoration featured an introductory slideshow, taken during one of Parker's and Ward's humorous broadcasts on WDBJ7 in Roanoke's 'Mornin' show. Parker and Ward were reportedely killed by Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, during a live broadcast on August 26th in Moneta, Virginia. Williams later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 30, 2015: (L-R) Dave Skole, with Christ Lutheran Church in Roanoke consoles Chris Hurst, boyfriend and colleague of Alison Parker, at the Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Healing to commemorate the lives of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward at the Jefferson Center in Shaftman Performance Hall in on August 30, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. Parker and Ward were reportedely killed by Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, during a live broadcast on August 26th in Moneta, Virginia. Williams later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 30, 2015:Andy Parker, father of Alison Parker, is comforted by a family member of Parker's boyfriend and colleague, Chris Hurst, following the Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Healing to commemorate the lives of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward at the Jefferson Center in Shaftman Performance Hall in on August 30, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. Parker and Ward were reportedely killed by Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, during a live broadcast on August 26th in Moneta, Virginia. Williams later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - AUGUST 27: Residents hold candles during a vigil for Alison Parker on Martinsville High School's football field on August 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on August 26. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - AUGUST 27: A photo sits amonst flowers at a candlelight vigil for Alison Parker on Martinsville High School's football field on August 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on August 26. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - AUGUST 27: Residents attend a candlelight vigil for Alison Parker on Martinsville High School's football field on August 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on August 26. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: DonnaToliver leaves flowers at a memorial for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Madalyn Hartberger (L) and Rachel Ostrom bring flowers for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: DonnaToliver leaves flowers at a memorial for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Madalyn Hartberger (L) and Rachel Ostrom bring flowers for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Flowers are left for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Jil Harrington leaves flowers for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Evidence and his writings show that Flanagan "closely identified with individuals who have committed domestic acts of violence and mass murder, as well as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.," said the statement. Almost 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

The statement said two Glock pistols were recovered from Flanagan's rental car. No other firearms have been found.

The on-air killings have brought renewed calls for gun control in the United States and in Virginia, where the National Rifle Association gun lobby is headquartered.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, vowed to press ahead with legislation on background checks for gun buyers, although the Republican-led legislature has rejected his gun control efforts.

Citing a federal law enforcement source, USA Today said Flanagan had legally bought the handguns. He passed a background check despite his apparent emotional problems, it reported.

In a fax to ABC News the day of the shooting, Flanagan, who was black, called himself a "powder keg" over what he saw as racial discrimination. He was fired from CBS affiliate WDBJ7 in 2013.

See more of Flanagan's social media postings:

16 PHOTOS
Suspected shooter Vester Flanagan (Bryce Williams)
See Gallery
Man who shot Virginia journalists identified with 9/11 attacks: sheriff
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

A search warrant for Flanagan's rental car said police were tipped to him when he sent a text message to a friend "making reference to having done something stupid."

In the car, police found a pistol, 9mm ammunition, more magazines and a pistol case. Other items included stamped letters, a to-do list and briefcase with three license plates, a wig and sunglasses, the warrant said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Additional reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Susan Heavey and Eric Beech)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners