ROANOKE, Va. – In the aftermath of a double murder broadcast on live television -- as people were awakening to the new day and sipping coffee – the suspected shooter was identified as a former employee of CBS-affiliate WDBJ, in Western Virginia.
As photojournalist Adam Ward, working with Alison Parker on a feature assignment at Smith Mountain Lake, was shot, he turned the camera and momentarily captured an image of the suspect.
News reports cited the photo helped identify Vester Flanagan II as the suspect. A search warrant obtained by CBS 6 also shows that investigators identified the suspect as a person of interest based upon a text message sent to a friend "making reference to having done something stupid."
A lookout with the vehicle description was sent by Virginia State Police (VSP).
At a press conference Wednesday, Sgt. Rick Garletts, with VSP, said that Trooper Pam Neff was on patrol along Interstate 66 when her license plate reader, LPR, verified the Chevrolet Sonic traveling east on 66 as the wanted suspect’s vehicle.
When troopers attempted to stop the vehicle, the subject operating the vehicle failed to yield and was observed to place an object to this head, the documents said.
“The vehicle left the roadway and crashed in the center median,” Special Agent J.A. Defilippi with the VSP wrote in his report.
The driver and sole occupant, subsequently identified as Flanagan, was wounded in the head. Police also observed firearms and ammunition in the vehicle, which came to a stop around mile marker 17 on the interstate, in Faquier County.
He was transported to Innova Fairfax Hospital where he died of his wound at 1:26 p.m.; almost seven hours had passed from when authorities said Flanagan gunned down the Virginia reporter and cameraman.
Inside the Chevy Sonic, rented from Enterprise, police also found 17 stamped letters and a briefcase that contained three license plates, a shawl, and an umbrella, according to the search warrant. There was also assorted handwritten and typed letters and notes.
Police, citing “scene security concerns,” have taken the vehicle to the VDOT facility in Marshall, Virginia to be processed.