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Ex-employee suspected of killing TV journalists dies of self-inflicted gunshot wound

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MONETA, Va. — Vester L. Flanagan II, the suspect in the slayings of two WDBJ-TV journalists, died at a hospital Wednesday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Franklin County, Virginia, Sheriff Bill Overton told reporters.

Flanagan, a former WDBJ reporter, killed two of the Roanoke TV station's employees live on air before fleeing in a gray 2009 Ford Mustang to Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. There, he ditched the Mustang and drove away in a Chevrolet Sonic that he had rented earlier in the month, Overton told reporters.

Just before 11:30 a.m., Virginia State Police saw the suspect's car headed east on Interstate 66. With emergency lights activated, a Virginia State Police trooper initiated a traffic stop, said police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

The driver refused to stop and sped away before running off the road and crashing, Geller told CNN. Troopers found the driver inside suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was transported to a hospital where he later died, Geller said.

Flanagan was a reporter at WDBJ for about a year using the on-air name, Bryce Williams, according to a former WDBJ employee.

Flanagan was fired from the station, though the reason was not made public, the ex-employee said.

"Two years ago, we had to separate him from the company. We did understand that he was still living in the area," WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said.

ABC News reported that it received a fax containing a 23-page manifesto from someone named Bryce Williams, acccording to a tweet. The document was handed over to investigators, ABC said.

The network posted a short story reporting some of the manifesto's contents. They show Flanagan alleging that he had been the victim of bullying and discrimination because he is gay and black.

He also said that he was compelled to respond to Dylann Roof's massacre at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in June and he was inspired by Seung Hui Cho, who orchestrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.

"You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE ...(deleted)!!!" ABC quoted from the manifesto.

Two videos posted on a Twitter account under the name, Bryce Williams, show someone walking up to the WDBJ news crew and pointing a gun at them.

Another tweet said, "I filmed the shooting." The Facebook and Twitter account were suspended shortly after the tweets.

Video shows the gunman approaching WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward as Parker conducted a routine interview about a local story outside Moneta, Virginia.

Ward's back is to the gunman. Parker is in profile, and the interviewee is facing the gunman. The shooter appears to take his time aiming the gun, presenting it and then withdrawing it, before composing the angle of his video. He opens fire on Parker first. Both Parker and the interviewee scream.

Shocking morning broadcast

During the live broadcast around 6:45 a.m., TV viewers saw the camera fall to the ground and caught the briefest glimpse of a man who appeared to point a gun toward the downed cameraman.

The station cut away to a shocked anchor, Kimberly McBroom, back in the studio.

Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were killed at Bridgewater Plaza near Moneta, the station reported later.

Ward's fiancée was in the control room and saw the shooting, Marks told CNN.

Though Marks has heard that Flanagan had leveled accusations in the past, he said, "I don't think (reporter) Alison (Parker) and that individual even overlapped here."

Marks added he was not exaggerating when he says that Parker and photographer Adam Ward were "the kindest and nicest people who worked here. ... I can't figure out any connection."

According to tweets from the Bryce Williams account, Alison had "made racist comments," while "Adam went to hr on me after working with me one time!!!" There was no elaboration, and CNN was unable to immediately confirm if either claim was true.

The woman being interviewed, Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back and is in surgery, said Barb Nocera, the chamber's special projects manager.

Gardner is recovering from emergency surgery and is in stable condition, according to Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital in Rocky Mount, Virginia.

The gunman was believed to have fired six or seven times, Marks said.