Statement on Today’s Smith Mountain Lake Shooting and Investigation

The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association expresses its condolences to the families of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward, who died as the result of gunshot wounds following this morning’s shooting at Bridewater Plaza in Moneta, Va.

The VSA also wishes Vicki Gardner a safe recovery. Parker was interviewing Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, live on camera around 6:45 a.m. when the shooting occurred.

“The VSA commends Sheriff Bill Overton of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Mike Brown of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, and a host of other law enforcement agencies who quickly responded to the scene, conducted the manhunt of Vester Lee Flanagan II, and are currently completing the investigation,” said John W. Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association.

Flanagan, a former WDBJ reporter who worked under the name Bryce Williams, was fired from the station in 2013. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being transported to a Fairfax hospital around 1:30 p.m.

A license plate reader (LPR) was instrumental in Flanagan’s capture. Just before 11:30 a.m., a Virginia State Police trooper’s LPR flagged Flanagan’s vehicle, which was headed eastbound on Interstate 66.

“Flanagan’s capture demonstrates the critical role of license plate readers as necessary law enforcement tools during the course of investigations,” said Lunenburg County Sheriff Arthur Townsend, president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association.

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