Gov. Haley reacts to report Charleston church shooting triggered TV news crew slayings

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, after learning the gunman who killed two journalists blamed the act on the Charleston church shooting, said people who attempt to shake the foundation of what makes us great are failing.

The governor was responding to a report quoting ABC News that a man claiming to be the killer of a reporter and photojournalist said the deadly June 17 shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston prompted him to open fire Wednesday morning during a live news interview.

"What is incredibly sad is that these very troubled, very selfish people are not only taking the lives of innocents, but they are attempting to shake the foundation of what makes us great - freedom to worship, freedom of expression and freedom of the press. But they are failing," Haley said in a statement. "We have said it before - and we will continue to say it - the only thing that will stop hate is love. We have proven that in South Carolina. We will continue to remind everyone of the grace of the people of South Carolina over the act of a murderer any day. Our thoughts and prayers are with today's victims, their families and their friends."

ABC News reported receiving a 23-page fax from a man claiming to be Bryce Williams, who later called and said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan at 8:26 a.m., almost two hours after the shooting.

The network posted a portion of the note: "Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15..." The note also read, "What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims' initials on them," according to ABC News.

The note also referred to alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof and a report Roof claimed he wanted to start a "race war" with the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, ABC News said, quoting, "You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!"

That document is being analyzed by investigators, Franklin County Sheriff W.Q. "Bill" Overton Jr. said at a news conference

Authorities say they know the suspect, Vester Flanagan, was a former employee at the station, WDBJ-TV. They say they don't know if the shooting was racially motivated. Flanagan was black and had formerly complained about racial bias at the station.

Flanagan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the Wednesday morning shooting. He reported under the name Bryce Williams on the air.

Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed in the Wednesday morning on-air shooting at a shopping center. A woman shot and wounded while she was being interviewed by a television crew during a live broadcast is in stable condition after undergoing surgery.

Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital said on its Facebook page Wednesday that Vicki Gardner, a local economic development official who also was on the hospital's board of directors, was recovering after the surgery. It did not elaborate on the nature of her wounds.

Video of the shooting was posted on the Twitter account and Facebook page of someone under the name Bryce Williams. The video showed an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Parker as she tried to run away. Those social media accounts were later suspended.

Police say that shortly before 11:30 a.m., they initiated a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle on Interstate 66. Police say the driver refused to stop and sped away from the trooper, but ran off the road and crashed. Police say the troopers approached and found the driver suffering from a gunshot wound.

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said Flanagan died at 1:26 p.m. at a North Virginia hospital.

Charleston investigators said Roof entered the Emanuel AME Church at 110 Calhoun St. at approximately 8:06 p.m. on June 17, where he met with parishioners who were conducting a bible study. After approximately an hour of studying, Roof stood up, pulled out a handgun and began shooting at the parishioners inside the hall, striking nine people, police said.

The victims of the shooting included the historic church's pastor, State Sen. and Rev. Clementa Pinckney, along with Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., Sharonda Singleton and Myra Thompson.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.