Guynell Flanagan, first cousin of Vester Flanagan (pictured), the man who murdered WBDJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward on live television earlier this week, spoke with the Daily Mail about how the family is coping with the heartbreaking situation.
Shortly after the killings, Flanagan emailed a 23-page manifesto to ABC News describing his motivation for the killings were a result of mistreatment he felt he received for being black and gay.
“He wrote the manifesto,” Guynell said, “but [the family] don’t believe a lot of what’s being said about him. We know Vester in different ways.”
“The whole family knew he was gay,” she continued. “We accepted him. He’s not the only one in the family who’s gay and, personally, I couldn’t care less.”
Guynell explained that the last time she actually saw Flanagan was in November 2013, when she invited him and a male companion over for Thanksgiving dinner. She isn’t sure whether the man was a boyfriend or just a friend, and she didn’t ask.
Guynell described the moment she learned her cousin was the one responsible for the murders as taking her by complete surprise, since she never knew him to be an angry person.
“I was sitting there looking at the news and it didn’t occur to me, I just woke up and it didn’t click it was our Vester. We can’t believe something like this would happen.”
The family now has the difficult task of grieving the loss of a loved one who committed a terrible crime.
“I’m grieving in my own way,” she said. “I don’t do a lot of crying. God will take care of this. I’m praying for my family and the victims’ families.”