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August 26, 2015

TV murder suspect fatally shoots himself in Fauquier

Alison Parker, a Martinsville native and 2012 James Madison University graduate, was killed Wednesday morning while doing a live TV report at Smith Mountain Lake. She was 24.
Adam Ward, a Salem native and 2011 Virginia Tech graduate, shot video as he died Wednesday morning.
12:05 p.m. An earlier version of this post, based on information from sources, said the suspect had died along Interstate 66 near Markham. He was alive when flown from the scene by a medical helicopter.

2:20 p.m. update: The suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and other authorities. He crashed his car along Interstate 66 near Markham after shooting himself around 11:30 a.m.

2:20 p.m. update:

The westbound lanes of Interstate 66 in Fauquier County have been reopened to traffic. Motorists should expect delays and congestion. There is currently a one-mile backup.

I-66 eastbound is still closed, with motorists being diverted off at mile marker 13 to use Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) as an alternate route.

12:44 p.m. update:

Interstate 66 is closed in both directions between exit 13 (Linden, Warren County) and exit 18 (Markham, Fauquier County) for Virginia State Police activity.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is actively assisting with traffic control and is diverting motorists off the interstate to Route 55 (John Marshall Highway).

No estimate has been provided on the reopening of I-66.

12:26 p.m. Roanoke Times update:

Police say Vester Flanagan had been driving a Ford Mustang, which they found abandoned at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, but they believe he switched to a silver Chevrolet Sonic which they traced back as a rented vehicle.

Also related to Flanagan, an official with ABC News said a fax was received in its New York office from someone who identified himself as Bryce Williams. Bryce Williams was the name Flanagan used in his work as a reporter.

The fax was received sometime between last night and early this morning, according to an official in the newsroom who asked that any statements be attributed to ABC News.

The fax, about 23 pages long, was turned over to authorities, the official said. She could not elaborate on the contents of the document.

12:17 p.m. state police update:

Shortly before 11:30 a.m., Virginia State Police spotted the suspect vehicle headed eastbound on Interstate 66. With emergency lights activated the Virginia State Police trooper initiated a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle refused to stop and sped away from the trooper. Minutes later, the suspect vehicle ran off the road and crashed. The troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound. He is being transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.

The male driver is believed to be the same male subject who shot three people this morning in Franklin County during a television news interview.

The suspect in the murder of two Roanoke TV journalists shot himself late this morning in Fauquier County.

State police and Fauquier sheriff’s deputies followed the suspect’s car on eastbound Interstate 66 between Linden and Markham.

The suspect shot himself near Mile Marker 16 on I-66, according to the sheriff’s office.

A medical helicopter took him from the scene.

Authorities identified the suspect as Vester Lee Flanagan.

Mr. Flanagan, 41, previously worked at WDBJ-TV 7 in Roanoke and reported under the name Bryce Williams.

Around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, he allegedly shot and killed WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, during a live interview at Smith Mountain Lake in Franklin County.

The suspect then fled north on Interstate 81 and then headed east on I-66.
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