Pre-Employ Blog

Bryce Williams Facts: Deadly Reminder for HR Professionals

Posted by Bob Mather on August 26, 2015

(Warning: The video link in this post is shocking and shows the murders from the camera the killer holds. Graphic Video)

REVISION:  After careful consideration and discussion as a company, we felt that out of respect for the family and all involved, it was best to remove the video link.

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The horrific shooting of two television reporters by Vester Lee Flanagan AKA "Bryce Williams" is a terrible reminder of the risks of hiring and terminating employment decisions that may have on ourselves or the employees

Why Are You Writing About This?

We are not trying to sell anything with this post. Our Hope is to start a discussion in your organization on what you can legally do to reduce the likelihood of this sort of tragedy happening.

We see alot of facts, files and sometimes photographs as we gather court records for employers or their legal teams. Murder, rape, torture you name it, we have to discuss it here in our office. What details are reportable under the law, what are not... sometimes we see a police report with details of horrible nature or a full criminal file with details no one wants to see or hear about. Our frustration mounts when we see a horrific crime conviction that is legally not reportable. ( over 7 years in California for example)

We are not complaining, and most of the time we dont talk about it in a editorial piece like this. But this time we are. We hope it encourages your team to discuss this sort of event. 

If not, dont read below. it is disturbing and factual and the video is very graphic. Workplace Violence is very ugly and at times not politically correct to talk about. If anyone would understand and encourage a discussion from a tragedy like this, I believe Adam and Alison would.

 

Below you will find:

  • Facts about Bryce Williams ( the killer)
  • Criminal record
  • Civil record
  • Tweets he tweeted
  • Why he was fired from his job
  • Link to the video as recorded by Lester Flanagan ( Bryce Williams)
  • Suggested tips to help prevent

 

Who The Killer Was:

On air reporter Bryce Williams was legally known as Vester Lee Flanagan 41 years old. He murdered two former coworkers as they filmed a live morning TV shoot and then posted the shooting from his camera on social media shortly thereafter. Later in the morning he killed himself.

We can find only 3 criminal records at this time

All three criminal records are infraction traffic and are in the state of Virginia ( Roanoke ). we are continuing to search courthouses and will update this article if and when we find more.

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He had Sued His Former Employer for Discrimination Mentioning Murder

According to federal court records,  Click here for complete file:) he sued WTWC-TV, a Tallahassee, Florida station, in 2000 for “discrimination and retaliation.” The case was settled, but details of the settlement weren’t immediately available.

In it he claimed: "In or around December, 1999, a comment was made about a black murder suspect who had gold and green teeth. A comment was made by an official with Defendant after hearing that the suspect had green teeth that it was "collard greens" stuck in his teeth. The same murder was being discussed later and the suspect was referred to as "just another thug", implicating racial bias by the official"

He faxed a suicide note 3 hours after the shooting

In what many experts believe is common for criminal minds, Bryce Williams claimed to be a victim of sorts. In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II. He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them."

According to ABC News

ater in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harrisand Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'"

He Tweeted Immediately after the Shooting mentioning the Victims

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He was Fired from the Television Station

"Vester was an unhappy man," Jeff Marks, the general manager of WDBJ, said on the station's noon newscast. "He had a reputation for being difficult to work with.

Marks said that Flanagan was fired "after many incidents of his anger coming forward" and was escorted from the building by police. His LinkedIn page said that he worked for WDBJ for a year, until February 2013.

Reports say the building was put on lock down immediately following his exit.

He Filmed and Posted the Murders:

Link to the video: WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO

Several sites have posted the video of the killing that was filmed by the killer. at the time of the posting, you can view it here on this website: LINK REMOVED

What should we do?

There are multiple official prevention strategies but before reading, commit to discussing this with your executive team. This is a situation where over communication is in your favor. This is a difficult discussion.

topics to consider:

According to businessmanagementdaily.com look for these 8 signs in current employees:

1. Fascination with weapons. That’s different than ownership of weapons. (Think Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle character in “Taxi Driver.”)

2. Substance abuse. Research shows a big correlation between substance abuse and violence.

3. Severe stress. Stress is a function of modern society, but people with a propensity toward violence allow that stress to become an excuse for violence.

4. Violent history. “Once people cross that moral, ethical or professional barrier into violence,” Davis says, “it’s a lot easier for them to do it the next time.”

5. Decreased or inconsistent productivity. Employees with a tendency toward violence have a harder time keeping a consistent level of productivity.

6. Isolation, poor peer relationships. Loners are more likely to act violently because they don’t have a social network to work out problems.

7. Poor personal hygiene. These people have moved into the dangerous “I don’t care” phase.

8. Drastic changes in personality. It’s a myth that you need to watch out for ultra-shy or ultra-outgoing employees. Davis says, “You need to pay attention to the person who flip-flops between the two.”

Make a plan:

Tthese sites help make a formal plan:

http://www.workplaceviolence911.com/

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/

 

Open discussion regarding workplace violence is a must for all HR professionals and their team.

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