About two hours after allegedly shooting a news anchor and cameraman dead on live TV, a man claiming to be suspect Vester Lee Flanagan faxed a 23-page letter to ABC News.
The letter, labeled a “Suicide Note” by its author, included an addendum called “Open Letter to a Black Father From A Black Son Who Was Raised in ** Oakland, CA** (of all places)," according to images of the document provided by ABC News.
The letter recounted why Flanagan allegedly shot the two journalists, former colleagues at the Virginia station where he used to work.
“What sent me over the top was the [Charleston church] shooting," the letter read. Two days after that June shooting, in which nine black parishioners were killed by a white supremacist, he "put down a deposit for a gun."
Flanagan, who wrote that he is gay, claimed that he had been a victim of both racial discrimination and anti-gay harassment.
In 2000, Flanagan filed a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, also a TV station, in Florida, according to court files. It was not clear whether a settlement was reached in that case. Just after the shooting, a Twitter account that reportedly belonged to Flanagan tweeted that one of the victims had "made racist comments" towards him.
ABC, a corporate parent of Fusion, said that a man claiming to be Bryce Williams (Flanagan's on-screen alias) had called the network saying he wanted to pitch a story. "He never told ABC News what the story was," ABC reported today. About an hour and a half after the fax was sent to ABC, he reportedly called again and said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan. He then claimed to have shot two people that morning, and mentioned that the police were pursuing him at the moment.
"Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am. And I have every right to be," Flanagan wrote in the letter.
“The 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!!!!”
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.