News from the Tesla camp typically centers around a cool feat of electric car technology or the promise of a new clean gadget, but that’s not always the case. Tesla released a statement yesterday describing an “altercation” between the employees of the company and journalists from the Reno Gazette Journal. The reporters were, according to Tesla, trespassing and snooping around the under-construction Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada, when they were discovered by a Tesla employee. The events that unfolded next sound almost like something out of a movie, landing a photographer in jail facing a charge for assault with a deadly weapon.
The whole ordeal took place last Friday, just before noon. Tesla’s statement describes how the employee who discovered the journalists told them they were trespassing and asked them to identify themselves. Reportedly, the journalists refused, even though the two were wearing badges from the newspaper and their Jeep sported “RGJ” decals. One of the men was later identified as photographer Andy Barron, who has been with the RGJ since 1998.
Two Gigafactory safety managers were called in for assistance, and the Storey County Sheriff’s department was also notified while the RGJ employees were still on the Tesla property. According to the Tesla statement, the managers asked the reporters to wait until the Sheriff’s department arrived, and that’s when things escalated.
Barron and his associate climbed into their Jeep and attempted to flee the scene. Barron, at the wheel, reportedly drove in reverse, knocking down a Tesla security guard who was standing behind the vehicle, causing multiple injuries. Then, he drove the Jeep into an ATV that was carrying two security managers, which prompted one of them to dismount the ATV and approach the Jeep. Barron accelerated again, hitting the security manager with the Jeep.
The Sheriff’s department arrived soon after and arrested Barron for assault with a deadly weapon. Both journalists will also be charged with trespassing at the $5 billion gigafactory, which will manufacture lithium-ion batteries for Tesla.
Images via Tesla Motors