Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, murdered two former colleagues at a TV news station in Roanoke, Virginia, last Wednesday morning. A couple hours after the shooting, ABC News received a 23-page fax outlining Flanagan’s views and motives in his own words.In the five days since the shooting, ABC News has chosen not to publish the full contents of the fax, which was variously described in the media as a manifesto or a suicide note. No explanation has been given for withholding the full contents from the public. Given that Flanagan is dead, there would seem to be no reason not to reveal it (i.e., no pending trial and therefore no reason to worry about an ongoing investigation or influencing potential jurors).
ABC did report excerpts from the document on the day of the shooting. In them, Flanagan said the final straw that prompted his crime was the Charleston church shooting. Speaking of racist shooter Dylan Roof, Flanagan wrote, “You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE… (deleted)!!!”
A New York Times report, published last Thursday, described the fax as containing 3 separate suicide notes, all of which had been typed in the past few weeks. The Times added some additional detail to the report by ABC, including the fact that, after he was fired by WDBJ in 2013, Flanagan killed his two cats in a rage and later buried them.
On Monday, the New York Daily News reported on a separate cache of letters Flanagan sent to his former roommate Robert Avent. Avent and Flanagan met in 2002 while working out at a gym in North Carolina. In the letters, Flanagan reminisces about his life as a gay prostitute and describes his disappointment and worry over losing his looks.