On television, he was known as Bryce Williams. In private, he was Vester Flanagan II. On Wednesday, he became known to the world as the man who killed two journalists during a live TV broadcast.
Already, he had a reputation for behaving erratically.
“He started throwing things and he got angry,” Orlando Salinas, a former colleague of Flanagan’s, told NBC News’ Tracy Connor of the day Flanagan was fired from his job at WDBJ. Salinas said ”managers began to herd staffers into different rooms away from [Flanagan]. Police were called … they escorted him out of the building and told him never to come back.” Court documents obtained by NBC News verify that police were called to the newsroom through 911 when Flanagan was fired from WDBJ.
Flanagan, 41, died Wednesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a Virginia hospital after fatally shooting 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old news photographer Adam Ward during a live report on local CBS affiliate WDBJ, the same station where Flanagan once worked.
Personnel files from the station instructed employees to “call 911 immediately” if they saw Flanagan on company property after his termination, NBC News reported.
“[Flanagan] told me he felt like he wasn’t being treated fairly [at WDBJ],” Salinas added, “that there was discrimination … He’d had some knock-down drag-out fights with management … Some were very loud and verbal and people could hear yelling from behind closed doors.”
Salinas said Flanagan had accused a white photographer of using a racial slur toward him, and that when Flanagan reported it to management, they did not believe him. According to Salinas, the photographer’s wife was black and he never would have used the slur.
Salinas said several months before he was fired, Flanagan sent him “an ugly email” containing a “sexual innuendo” that “sounded threatening.”
According to documents filed in a case that Flanagan brought against WDBJ, Flanagan behaved in a way that made one or more of his co-workers feel “threatened or uncomfortable.” Eventually, he was “required to contact Health Advocate, the employee assistance program.” Failure to do so, the documents say, would have result in his termination.
WDBJ general manager Jeffrey Marks described Flanagan’s reputation in the office as someone “difficult to work with.”
“He was sort of looking out for people to say things he could take offense to,” Marks said in an interview that aired on the station. “After many incidents of his anger coming to the floor, we dismissed him. He did not take that well; we had to call police to escort him from the building.”
Flanagan, who graduated from San Francisco State in 1995 with a degree in radio and television, had applied to jobs at NBC over several years. He also reportedly applied to a job at CNN and other news outlets.
Shortly after Wednesday’s shooting, ABC News said that it received a 23-page fax from someone claiming to be Bryce Williams and had turned it over to authorities.
“The [Charleston] church shooting was the tipping point … but my anger has been building steadily … I’ve been a human powder keg for a while … just waiting to go BOOM!!!!” the document said, according to ABC News.
NBC News has not independently seen the material sent to ABC nor verified that Flanagan sent it.