Vester Flanagan (a.ka. Bryce Williams) around the time he was allegedly working as a male escort.
The nation is still reeling over the shooting murders of 24-year-old WBDJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward.
Shortly after the shooting, the suspected gunman, former WBDJ employee Bryce Williams, who’s real name was Vester Flanagan, took his own life, but not before emailing his manifesto to ABC News, in which he confessed his motivation for the killing was mistreatment he felt he received for being a gay black man.
Now, People is reporting that before his career in television news, Flanagan “exchanged sex for money in the mid-1990s.” Sources say Flanagan worked as a male escort during a period of unemployment between 1995 and 1997, when he was in his early 20s.
An extended family member claims Flanagan found customers in online chat rooms geared towards casual hookups.
“In his profile, he had a lot of dollar signs, and that was a sign to the people he was chatting with that he was willing to hook up for money,” the family member said. “He kept it a secret from his parents, but he did tell a few other family members in his generation who he thought might accept it. I won’t say he was proud of it, but he wasn’t ashamed, either.”
The family member also revealed that Flanagan’s family were devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. “So obviously, he couldn’t tell everyone about it. It was a secret that only a few people knew.”
Friends of Flanagan claim he kept most of the details about his personal life to himself, sharing only minimal details about his past.
“He said he did what he had to do,” childhood friend Shaun Barton, who called the time Flanagan worked as an escort a “dark period” in his life. “But he had a lot of dark periods in his life.”