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Virginia Shooter, Who Claimed Harassment for Being Black and Gay, Had Been Ordered to Get Medical Help

Bryce Williams

Vester Flanagan went to great lengths to control how people saw him, tweeting photographs of his life and sending a national news organization a fax of nearly two dozen pages outlining his grievances.

A clearer picture emerged today of the gunman who shot and killed a reporter and photographer from a Roanoke, Va., television station live on TV and then shared it on Facebook and Twitter.

Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, who used the name Bryce Williams when he worked as a reporter at WDBJ, identified himself as gay in a rambling 23-page manifesto that he faxed to ABC News following the murders. He claimed to be a victim of both racial and sexual orientation discrimination, despite a finding by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that his claims were without merit. But it seems he was also a troubled man who was not good at his job and sought to excuse his poor judgment and lack of social skills by falsely claiming he was a victim of discrimination.

What Flanagan did not mention in his manifesto, however, was that his managers had ordered him to seek medical help after repeated incidents in which he ran afoul of his colleague at the TV station.

Thursday at WDBJ, little mention was made of Flanagan, as the focus was on mourning his two young victims: 24-year-old Alison Parker, and 27-year-old Adam Ward. A third shooting victim, Vicki Gardner of the local chamber of commerce, remains in stable condition following surgery. She was being interviewed by Parker as Ward operated the live camera when Flanagan approached them, and opened fire during the live report. Today at 6:45 A.M., exactly 24 hours later, a moment of silence was marked during the morning program to honor Ward and Parker.

The BBC reported that within a few weeks of Flanagan's hire in March 2012, coworkers complained of "feeling threatened or uncomfortable" working with him.

Internal memos obtained by the British news organization highlight "heated confrontations" with both producers and photographers while out covering stories, that were witnessed by the public.

By July of that year, then-news director Dan Dennison ordered Flanagan to see the company's employee assistance program, writing in another memo:

"We can no longer afford to have you engage in behaviors that constitute creation of a hostile work environment."

Dennison, who now works as a spokesman for the state government in Hawaii, threatened to fire Flanagan if he didn't comply.

But Flanagan continued to have trouble at work. Another British news organization, the tabloid Daily Mail, obtained a memo showing he was written up for wearing an Obama sticker at a polling place, in violation of the company policy on partisanship.

"We are fast reaching the point where continued violations of company policy or basic journalistic standards could mean termination," Dennison warned him in that memo.

The Daily Mail also obtained copies of scathing performance reviews that showed Flanagan scored 1 out of 5 in required skills. Managers described his reporting as confusing and "lean on facts," according to the newspaper. In another document they called him "the human tape recorder" for never challenging press releases or interviewees.

Flanagan was fired in February 2013.

Heavy published photographs Flanagan had tweeted in his final days, of his life, beginning with his childhood in Oakland, Calif. In one he wrote that despite being raised a Jehovah's Witness, his mother allowed him to celebrate birthdays; in another he posed without a shirt and wearing a cowboy hat, and tweeted about his earlier career as a model and "companion."

His family issued a statement expressing their condolences to the victims, read by a family friend. Watch it below, and scroll down to read memos obtained by the Daily Mail.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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