Tele­vi­sion gun­man plot­ted to ‘hurt a lot more’

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The em­bit­tered gun­man who shot dead two young Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists on live TV was seem­ingly hell-bent on com­mit­ting more vi­o­lence be­fore he took his own life, Vir­ginia’s gover­nor said Fri­day.

Terry McAuliffe vis­ited the stu­dios of WDBJ tele­vi­sion in Roanoke two days af­ter Vester Flana­gan killed re­porter Ali­son Parker, 24, and cam­era­man Adam Ward, 27, as they were con­duct­ing an in­ter­view.

Flana­gan, 41, a for­mer WDBJ re­porter fired in Fe­bru­ary 2013, fa­tally shot him­self a few hours later af­ter po­lice caught up with his rented get­away car on a high­way that leads into the city of Washington, D.C.

“We’ve learned to­day that this in­di­vid­ual had a lot more am­mu­ni­tion and more in­tent to hurt a lot more peo­ple, we be­lieve,” McAuliffe told re­porters out­side the stu­dios af­ter­ward.

“We clearly can’t get into his mind and find out what he was plan­ning to do, but ob­vi­ously there were some bad in­ten­tions.”

Flana­gan used a Glock hand­gun — bought legally at a gun shop, U.S. firearms author­i­ties say — to kill Parker and Ward and wound their in­ter­view sub­ject, a lo­cal cham­ber of com­merce of­fi­cial.

In­side his car, which he crashed dur­ing the pur­suit, po­lice found two Glocks, six mag­a­zines, a to-do list and 17 stamped letters, ac­cord­ing to a Vir­ginia State Po­lice search war­rant re­leased late Thurs­day.

Also found were a brief­case with con­tents that in­cluded three li­cense tags, a wig and a shawl. The con­tents of the to-do list have not been dis­closed.

‘Iden­ti­fied with 9/11’

The sher­iff’s of­fice in Franklin County, where the mur­ders took place at a lakeside re­sort out­side Roanoke, said it ap­peared Flana­gan acted alone and told no­body about his mur­der­ous plans.

From ev­i­dence gath­ered so far, it said in a state­ment 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 United States.”

Flana­gan also “left no in­di­ca­tion as to his even­tual des­ti­na­tion or his next/fi­nal ac­tions,” the sher­iff’s of­fice said.

The dou­ble killing re­newed de­bate about gun con­trol in the United States, where cit­i­zens’ right to “keep and bear arms” is en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

McAuliffe, a gun-own­ing hunter, said he fa­vors ex­tend­ing “com­mon sense” back­ground checks for firearms pur­chases.

Such fed­er­ally man­dated checks now ap­ply only to pur­chases at li­censed gun shops. They do not in­clude gun shows, pri­vate sales and online trans­ac­tions.

“If you go to a gun show, there are big signs in cer­tain booths that say, ‘Come buy your gun here — we don’t do back­ground checks here,’” said McAuliffe.

“Why would you need a sign like that?”

McAuliffe ac­knowl­edged that Flana­gan — who also went by the name Bryce Wil­liams — had passed his back­ground check with­out a prob­lem, “so the point is that you won’t stop all vi­o­lence.”

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama pushed for broader firearm back­ground checks in the wake of the De­cem­ber 2012 mas­sacre of 20 chil­dren at an ele­men­tary school in New­town, Con­necti­cut.

But the ini­tia­tive — fiercely op­posed by the in­flu­en­tial Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion — died in the Se­nate af­ter fail­ing to muster suf­fi­cient votes.

Call from Clin­ton

In the north­ern state of Min­nesota, pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton called for tougher gun laws, say­ing the Vir­ginia blood­shed re­vealed that “some­thing is deeply wrong” in Amer­ica.

“No one is stand­ing up and say­ing what we all know to be true: We need to put an end to the gun vi­o­lence that plagues our com­mu­ni­ties,” she said, to loud ap­plause at a gath­er­ing of her cen­ter-left Demo­cratic Party.

On av­er­age, about 32,000 peo­ple die in firearm-re­lated in­ci­dents ev­ery year in the United States, which has more firearms in pri­vate hands per capita that any other na­tion.

The ma­jor­ity of those deaths are sui­cides, with homi­cides and ac­ci­dents ac­count­ing for the re­main­ing fa­tal­i­ties.

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