Trespassing, and hurting someone in the process, is no way to score a scoop. Yet that’s what a pair of journalists allegedly did at Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, last week.
On the morning of Friday, Oct. 9, a photographer and another employee of the Reno Gazette-Journal reportedly climbed through a fence bearing “Private Property” signs at the massive site, according to a lengthy blog post about the incident published yesterday by Elon Musk’s electric car company.
When confronted by a Tesla safety manager, the trespassers denied breaching Gigafactory grounds and refused to provide their names, though their workplace I.D. cards reportedly dangled from their pockets in plain view.
When a second safety manager arrived on scene, Tesla says the two journalists were notified that deputies from the local sheriff’s department were on the way. At this point, the trespassers hopped into Jeep owned by the Gazette-Journal. A Tesla employee was then reportedly knocked over, sustaining a blow to his hip and lacerations on his arms, when the driver of the Jeep reportedly reversed into him while he attempted to jot down the vehicle’s license plate number.
A chase ensued and the incident erupted in violence again, Tesla claims, with the driver Jeep allegedly slamming the Jeep into an ATV carrying two Tesla safety managers. The driver then allegedly drove the vehicle into a safety manager who had dismounted the ATV, striking him in the abdomen.
Once authorities arrived on scene, the newspaper photographer, identified as Jose Andrews Barron, 59, was arrested on two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and held at the local detention center. Bail was set at $30,000. Tesla says both journalists will be charged with trespassing.
For its part, the Gazette-Journal says it is investigating the situation. The news outlet, in its own coverage of the clash, claims its vehicle was damaged in the altercation, saying that a rock was used to shatter the driver’s side window of the Jeep and that the driver’s-side seat belt was severed in half.
Tesla claims this isn’t the first time Looky Lous have broken the law to get a glimpse of its $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory, slated to open in 2017. “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,” the company’s blog post on the skirmish concludes. “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.”