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News organizations in New York were on high alert on Wednesday after a reporter and photographer from a Virginia television station were gunned downed on live television Wednesday morning.
John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of counterterrorism and intelligence, sent a memo to news organizations Wednesday morning alerting them to extra security for local news crews. “Out of an abundance of caution the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau, Critical Response Vehicles and Hercules Teams have been deployed to television news outlets in New York City,” he wrote.
Miller, who is a former CBS News and ABC News correspondent, added that “while there is no indication of any threat to media outlets beyond this incident, we have provided an additional layer of security until we have a fuller understanding of the motive behind the Virginia incident.”
The suspect has been identified as a Vester Lee Flanagan (known professionally as Bryce Williams), a former employee at the station who was apparently nursing a grievance. He was confronted by authorities Wednesday morning and shot himself. He was flown from the scene to NoVa Fairfax hospital where he died.
Meanwhile, ABC News confirmed on Wednesday morning that the news organization received a 23-page fax sometime between Wednesday morning from someone who identified himself as Bryce Williams. It was immediately turned over to law enforcement. It was not the first time he had contacted ABC News in New York; he had apparently called the news desk in the previous weeks saying he wanted to pitch a story. In the 23-page document, Flanagan writes that the shootings in at the predominantly black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last June motivated his killing spree.
The incident spurred a reiteration from ABC News management of “the importance of safety and vigilance,” a spokesperson tells THR. “Today illustrates that we need to always be mindful of our surroundings.”
Aug. 26, 1:28 p.m. Updated to with news of Flanagan’s death.
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