Jeffrey Marks, WDBJ Roanoke president and general manager, said he was "at a loss to figure out what happened" to Vester Lee Flanagan, the man who murdered two WDBJ journalists Wednesday, in the 2 ½ years after Flanagan was dismissed from the station. Marks defended WDBJ's screening and hiring policy, saying it was a "very elaborate" one in which Flanagan, whose on-air name was Bryce Williams, had received positive references from previous employers.
"We get good employees here," he said. "But every once in a while someone slips through the cracks."
Marks said he was "absolutely certain" that Flanagan was not subject to discrimination at the station, as the shooter had charged.
Marks and Kelly Zuber, WDBJ news director, held a press conference Thursday afternoon. Zuber said the station did not send out crews for live shots Wednesday or Thursday, out of "an abundance of caution." She said she'd "see what the comfort level is" in the newsroom before the newsgatherers return to the field.
The local police force, she added, offered their field support.
Marks thanked two communities — the local one and the media one — for their overwhelming support in this trying time. "We're gratified by the support of the world of journalism and broadcasting," he said, citing CBS anchor Scott Pelley, among others.
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