The Chronicle offers some more background on Flanagan, who grew up in Oakland and attended Skyline High School:
At his childhood home on the 4000 block of 39th Avenue in Oakland, Flanagan’s neighbor and close friend said he was “in shock” after learning of the killings.
“I’ve never seen him angry in my life,” said 54-year-old Dwayne Virgil Barker. “I’ve never seen him curse. I’m still in shock.”
Barker said Flanagan’s family moved across the street from him in the early 1970s and the young boy, who he called “little Vester from across the street,” quickly became his close friend.
“He’s not a monster,” Barker said.
Guynell Smith, an older cousin of Flanagan who lives in Vallejo, initially didn’t pay much attention to the news about the shooting until her brother called and told her to take a closer look at her television.
“I said, ‘That’s Vester. Oh my god!’” Smith explained.
Many of Flanagan’s family members, who live in the East Bay where Flanagan grew up with his parents and two sisters, were in shock, Smith said. She wasn’t aware of any personal problems that he was experiencing, and she had just spoke with Vester’s father, who now lives in Vallejo, the night before.
“I don’t know what could have happened to have brought this on,” Smith said. “I just know him as a good, decent, polite person.”
Rui Pimentel, a Vallejo resident who lived next door to the suspected gunman on Garnet Drive between 2009 and 2012, said that Flanagan went by the name "Mark" and lived alone in a house owned by his father.
"He was a hermit," said Pimentel. "He would order groceries and have it delivered."
Pimentel recalled a time when Flanagan helped take a pile of leaves from his front yard. "He was a gentle giant," Pimentel said.
Flanagan's LinkedIn profile, posted under the name Bryce Williams, reports he worked as a reporter at a series of small TV stations in Texas, South Carolina and Florida between 1995 and 2000. He was fired from the last of those positions, at WTWC in Tallahassee. He filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the station that was settled in 2001.
An Associated Press profile on Flanagan quotes a former supervisor as saying the reporter was dismissed after threatening other employees:
Flanagan "was a good on-air performer, a pretty good reporter and then things started getting a little strange with him," Don Shafer, the former news director of Florida's WTWC-TV said Wednesday in an interview broadcast on Shafer's current employer, San Diego 6 The CW.
Shafer said managers at the Florida station fired Flanagan because of his "bizarre behavior."
"He threatened to punch people out and he was kind of running fairly roughshod over other people in the newsroom," said Shafer.
Flanagan returned to the Bay Area, his profile says, working for the Bank of America and PG&E, before taking another TV reporting job in North Carolina, which ended in late 2004. His profile says he then worked at an interactive advertising firm through 2012, when he left to join the staff of WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia.
He was dismissed after 11 months. According to the AP:
When [Flanagan] was fired ... he had to be escorted out of the building by local police "because he was not going to leave willingly or under his own free will," the station's former news director, Dan Dennison, said in an interview with a Hawaii station, Hawaii News Now (KHNL/KGMB).
Flanagan, 41, had "a long series of complaints against co-workers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station," said Dennison, now an official with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. "All of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded." Though the claims were along racial lines, he said, "we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man."
Virginia law enforcement officials say Flanagan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the attack on the TV crew. A third person Flanagan shot during the TV segment was seriously wounded and underwent emergency surgery.