TV gunman was fired from 2 TV stations, filed lawsuit for gay and racial discrimination

Image 1 of 2

A Virginia television station is in mourning for its two journalists shot to death live on the air.

As the investigation continues, we are learning more about the gunman, Vester Flanagan, who was a former colleague of the victims.

WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward didn't see it coming. They were on live television doing a light feature interview when the shooting happened.

Flanagan was a reporter at the Roanoke, Virginia station until he was fired in 2013.

"Police arrived and escorted him from the building," said WDBJ-TV's general manager Jeff Marks. "On the way out, he handed a wooden cross to the news director … and he said you'll need this.

After he was fired, Flanagan then filed a complaint with the EEOC for discrimination for his sexuality and race. It was dismissed. He also filed a civil lawsuit.

"All of these investigations determined that no reasonable person would have taken any of the cited incidents as discrimination or harassment," said Marks.

This was the second time that we know of that Flanagan was fired from a television station and then sued for discrimination.

In 1999, he worked as a reporter and anchor in Tallahassee, Florida. In less than a year, his news director, who is now in San Diego, said problems began.

"He started having some issues with us where he had some problems with the floor crew and with some of the directors -- they were saying things," said Don Shafer, news director for San Diego 6. "He came into the station one weekend dressed in tights."

Shafer explained it was another era and his colleagues mocked him for the tights and his sexuality, which he had closeted.

"It became more and more difficult for us to work with him and for him to work with our people," he said.

Shafer fired him and Flanagan then filed a lawsuit. First, he said he was discriminated against because he was gay. Then he changed the claim to racial discrimination.

"To hear Vester Flanagan was the prime suspect in this crime was unbelievable," said Shafer. "The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I just felt horrible that here was a guy that I had worked with that had allegedly committed such a heinous act."

After killing Ward and Parker, Flanagan tweeted his supposed reasons for murder and posted videos. But his long troubled life ended when he committed suicide in Virginia.

Flanagan had years of pent up anger. He blamed everyone else for his problems. And for some reason, he fixated on two young journalists who he barely knew.