Tesla is one of the world’s most interesting companies and rightfully so, there’s a lot of pressure on media outlets to get a scoop on anything it does. But two journalists from the Reno Gazette Journal in Nevada were apparently in violation of the law when they attempted to get an up-close look at the Gigafactory.
Further, a confrontation that ensued between two Tesla safety managers and the two unidentified Journal employees sounds a lot like the recent bizarre incident involving Suge Knight and his red Ford F-150 Raptor in Compton that left a man dead and another injured.
Tesla says a Tesla safety manager was notified on Friday afternoon of two trespassers allegedly taking pictures at the Gigafactory. The employee reported it to Storey County Sheriff’s Department and then approached the culprits, telling them they were trespassing and needed to leave Tesla’s private property.
Despite the journalist pair having RGJ IDs hanging from their pockets, they didn’t provide their names and told the safety manager they weren’t trespassing. Tesla alleges that they had to climb through a fence that had “private property” signs. The journalists arrived at the location in a Jeep marked with RGJ decals on each side, and as they got in the car, another Tesla safety manager showed up and asked them to wait until the Sheriff’s deputies and other security personnel arrived.
The RGJ journalists allegedly weren’t trying to wait. They got in the Jeep and took off just as one of the Tesla managers tried to note the license plate number. According to Tesla, “the driver put it in reverse and accelerated into the Tesla employee, knocking him over, causing him to sustain a blow to the left hip, an approximate 2” bleeding laceration to his right forearm, a 3” bleeding laceration to his upper arm, and scrapes on both palms.”
That wasn’t all.
The RGJ employees’ Jeep allegedly struck the Tesla safety managers’ ATV – while one of the Tesla employees was dismounting the ATV and walking to the Jeep. “The driver of the Jeep also accelerated into him, striking him in the waist,” Tesla reports.
The two journalists were apprehended by the Sheriff’s deputies shortly after arrival. One was arrested on two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon and both were informed they will be charged with trespassing.
The RGJ employees have not been identified and RGJ has not yet commented on the situation.
Tesla issued the following warning on its blog, suggesting the latest incident was not the first:
“We appreciate the interest in the Gigafactory, but the repeated acts of trespassing, including by those working for the RGJ, is illegal, dangerous and needs to stop. In particular, we will not stand for assaults on our employees and are working with law enforcement to investigate this incident and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”
UPDATE: The RG-J reported Oct. 9 that its photographer Andy Barron, who has worked for the Gannett newspaper since 1998, was one of the employees arrested by the Storey County Sheriff’s Department on suspicion of battery with a deadly weapon. The newspaper’s publisher John Maher said “we take this situation very seriously and it is under investigation at this time.”
The RG-J’s vehicle had damage, in addition to the ATV of the Tesla security guards. The newspaper reported that Sheriff Gerald Antinoro said a “rock had been used to shatter the driver’s-side window and the driver’s-side seat belt had been cut in half.” He did not say how this occurred or who was responsible.
More on this story as it develops.
Photo Credit: Movilidad Electrica