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Why Moneta shooting is reminding many Southern Californians of Chris Dorner

Still from live CBS video feed during Moneta shooting on August 26, 2015
Still from live CBS video feed during Moneta shooting on August 26, 2015
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The story is still developing out of Moneta, VA, where a reporter and cameraman at central Virginia's WDBJ TV were shot and killed on live TV while doing an interview at a local mall.

The suspect is former WDBJ newsman Vester Flanagan, who used the air name Bryce Williams. He is still in critical condition, after reportedly shooting himself after being confronted by officers just off Interstate 66.

A person tweeting under the suspect’s name posted comments about the two victims and video of the shootings taken from the shooter's perspective.

The posts began with comments apparently aimed at reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward - "Alison made racist comments," "EEOC report filed," "They hired her after that??," "Adam went to HR on me after working with me one time!!!," "I filmed the shooting see Facebook."

The next posting was video of the shooting from the shooter's perspective, which KPCC has decided not to post online or broadcast. Twitter suspended the account minutes later.

It’s difficult to recall a time when social media has been used this sway in real time. It has not been confirmed that Vester Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, was tweeting while being pursued by police. But it would be an elaborate fabrication if it's someone else using his account.

Regardless, it’s not possible yet talk about this with certainty. ABC News says that between last night and this morning the network received a 23-page fax from someone who claimed to be Bryce Williams. ABC News isn't sharing the contents of the document but says it turned it over to law enforcement.

The combination of the 23-page fax and the disgruntled worker are reminding many in California of the shooting rampage carried out by Chris Dorner, a disgruntled former LAPD officer, who fatally shot 4 people and then himself in a series of shootings that led to a prolonged manhunt in February of 2013.

What are the red flags and psychological profiles of workplace violence? And with such instant media access, how does more traditional broadcast media, and Twitter, weigh decisions to replay such terrible acts of violence?


Joel Dvoskin, a board certified forensic psychologist and a senior psychologist with the Threat Assessment Group, a Newport Beach-based firm that works with Fortune 200 companies on workplace violence prevention. He is based in Tucson, Az.

Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota