- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A San Diego news director recognized the gunman who shot to death two journalists on live television as a the man he had hired and later fired from a Florida TV station 16 years ago for getting in fights with colleagues and threatening others.

XETV news director, Don Shafer, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he was listening to the news on the way to work when he heard that the suspect who gunned down reporter 24-year-old Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward of WDBJ-TV in Virginia was Vester Flanagan.

“The hair just stood up on the back of my neck,” he said. “I can’t believe that happened. He’s the suspect. It has sunk to that.”

Shafer said he hired Flanagan in 1999 to be a reporter at a TV station in Tallahassee, Florida.

“I checked out his reel, checked out his abilities, checked him out as much as I could, as much as you can check anybody out these days,” Shafer said. “He was a good reporter. Very clever guy, funny guy. Great energy….Was doing really well for us then it all kind of went downhill from there.”

Shafer started to learn there were problems with the new staffer getting along with his colleagues.

“He had increasing conflicts with people at the station, especially the floor crew, some of the other reporters, some of the photographers in the field, to the point where he was threatening people, had some physical confrontations with a couple of people, and at one point became such a distraction that we finally had to terminate him,” he said.

Shafer is among a number of people who worked with Flanagan over the years and described him as quick tempered and combative toward his co-workers, sending searing letters to managers. At a call center, he grabbed one female colleague by the shoulder and told her never to talk to him again.

At one point, Flanagan threatened to put his conflict with co-workers into “the headlines.”

Flanagan on Wednesday went online after the killings to claim that Parker and Ward had wronged him in the past. He turned the gun on himself when police caught up to him a few hours later.

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