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California neighbors wonder what could have happened to suspect

Vester Lee Flanagan II lived with his family on 39th Street in the Redwood Heights section of Oakland, Callf., attended the city’s public schools and went to college across the bay in San Francisco, where he majored in broadcast television at San Francisco State Univ.

At the time, Flanagan probably had no idea that he had set circumstances in motion that would eventually lead to his death at the age of 41, and the murders of two much-younger colleagues at WDBJ-7 TV out of Roanoke, Vir., according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

Yet that is what authorities say happened Wednesday after Flanagan allegedly opened fire on a reporter and cameraman from his station at a recreation and shopping area in nearby Moneta.

Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed as they interviewed a local businesswoman on live TV.

The businesswoman, Vicki Gardner of the local chamber of commerce, also was shot but survived and was listed in stable condition late Wednesday.

Flanagan, who reported for the station under the name Bryce Williams before being fired two years ago, apparently shot himself while fleeing on Interstate 66.

He was found by police, who reported locating him by tracking his cell phone, and died two hours later at an area hospital.

Authorities later said Flanagan apparently was the author of a 23-page manifesto sent to ABC News that listed his grievances and defended the shootings as retribution for the massacre at a church in Charleston, S.C., in June

People who knew Flanagan in the Bay Area said they were shocked to hear that he was suspected of the killings.

“I’ve never seen him angry in my life,” Oakland neighbor Dwayne Barker told the newspaper.

“I’ve never seen him curse . . . he’s not a monster.”

But Flanagan said in the faxed document that the Charleston shooting had so upset him that he bought a gun two days later.

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“What sent me over the top was the church shooting,” Flanagan says in the document.

“My hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them,” the document said.

Flanagan’s cousin, Guynell Smith of Vallejo, Calif., told the newspaper that Vester was a “good, decent, polite person.”

“I don’t know what could have happened to have brought this on,” Smith said.

Around the country, law enforcement groups reported stepping up patrols around television stations to guard against similar attacks.

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