Investigation continues into Smith Mountain Lake murders

Published 11:14 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

Editor’s note: The following is an update from Franklin County Sheriff’s Office concerning the details of the investigation of Wednesday’s shooting near Smith Mountain Lake.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is still actively investigating the fatal shootings that took place the morning of Aug. 26, at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake. The incident claimed the lives of two WDBJ-TV employees and seriously wounded a Bedford County resident. The shooting suspect, Vester L. Flanagan, 41, of Roanoke, then shot himself hours later while driving along Interstate 66 in Fauquier County. He died a short time later at a Northern Virginia hospital.

Investigators with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, FBI and ATF have been working around the clock since the shootings occurred to collect, analyze and process a significant amount of evidence, interviews, documentation, etc. That work will continue for several more weeks as investigators proceed with the investigation. At this stage of the investigation, we are able to release the following new information:

• Based on evidence collected at the Franklin County scene, Flanagan fired 17 rounds from a Glock pistol.

• State police recovered two handguns, both Glock pistols, from Flanagan’s rental vehicle that crashed along Interstate 66 in Fauquier County.

• No additional firearms have been recovered at any other locations associated with Flanagan.

• At the time of his apprehension in Fauquier County, Flanagan was not wearing any type of body armor or other protective clothing. Investigators are still working to determine if he was wearing protective clothing or gear at the shooting scene in Franklin County.

• Based on the evidence collected and analyzed to date, it is evident that Wednesday morning’s attack was well planned and pre-meditated.

• Investigators also believe, at this stage of the investigation and based on careful scrutiny of the evidence and numerous interviews with friends, family, former colleagues, and other associates, that Flanagan acted alone and shared his plans with no one.

• Despite the large number of documents, to include the manifesto faxed to a national news organization, writings he left behind at his apartment, and letters seized from the Chevrolet Sonic in Fauquier County, Flanagan left no indication as to his eventual destination or his next/final actions.

•Based on careful scrutiny of those writings and evidence seized from his apartment, it is apparent that Flanagan closely identified with individuals who have committed domestic acts of violence and mass murder, as well as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office expresses its sincere appreciation to the law enforcement response and assistance with this complex investigation. We also cannot thank the public enough for their support, tips, and assistance in the wake of this tragic incident.