The gunman who fatally shot a TV news reporter and cameraman during a live broadcast Wednesday claims he was on a mission from God.
Bryce Williams, whose real name is Vester Lee Flanagan, shot and killed himself after fatally shooting WDBJ news anchor Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward in a horrific crime broadcast on live TV.
According to reports, Williams had worked as a TV journalist in several southern states for many years. In 2012, he was hired at WDBJ, the same Roanoke TV station where his victims Alison Parker and Adam Ward worked.
However, Williams’ employment history reveals a pattern of anger over race and other issues in the workplace.
The Tallahassee Democrat reports that in 2000 Williams sued a local NBC affiliate, claiming producers and managers made racist remarks about blacks and fired him for complaining about it.
According to BuzzFeed, Williams was hired by WDBJ as a multimedia journalist in 2012 and was fired in 2013.
In a 23-page manifesto sent to ABC News, Williams wrote that the racism behind the Charleston church shooting prompted him to gun down WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward on Wednesday Morning.
In addition, ABC reports that Williams claims Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act, and kill the WDBJ journalists.
Williams was born in 1973 in Oakland, California, and was raised as a strict Jehovah’s Witness.
However, The Root reports that Williams was a non-practicing Jehovah’s Witness at the time of his death. Yet one thing seems certain: given the fact that Williams claimed that God told him to kill WDBJ journalists, it seems self-evident that Williams believed he was doing the will of God.
In fact, the disturbed man can be heard invoking God in his bizarre cell phone voicemail greeting:
Yeah, my name is Bryce Williams. You called the right number at the wrong time. Presently, I’m out communicating with people, so sometimes that takes a little bit longer than expected. Always remember this scripture for the day: That this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. You have a blessed day.
Ultimately, we may never know what motivated Williams’ heinous acts, but one thing is certain: mental illness combined with religious superstition often leads to tragedy.