Tesla Gigafactory Trespass In Nevada Ends In Photographer Charged With Battery With A Deadly Weapon (namely a Jeep)
Since Tesla selected Nevada as the site for their new Gigafactory, the place to go for the latest information on the project has been the Reno Gazette-Journal. Today, they are making news surrounding that project for the wrong reasons.
Two employees and a company vehicle for the Gazette-Journal trespassed onto the Gigafactory property Friday morning, and that illegal action ultimately resulted in a couple Tesla employees being struck with a Jeep driven by one of the Gazette-Journal's photographers while trying to flee from security. Another journalist was also in the vehicle.
The Reno Gazette-Journal (somewhat ironically) reports that photographer Andy Barron, was booked Friday on a charge of battery with a deadly weapon according to Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro.
“He was arrested after an altercation with the security guards when they attempted to detain him for trespassing,” Antinoro said, while noting that Barron “either hit or almost hit one or more of the security officers. They were stopped at that point in time and detained until my people got there and conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of whoever was driving the vehicle.”
Mr. Barron has been with RGJ for 17 years, and the news outfit also reports that its Jeep was indeed used during the trespass, and that it suffered a shattered window from a rock and that the driver's side seatbelt had been cut.
Tesla says (full statement below) that one security person while attempting to record the license plate of the Jeep, was run down when that vehicle was put into reverse in an attempt to flee - causing a left hip injury and a 2" cut on his right forearm and a 3" laceration to his upper arm.
After striking the first employee, the Jeep then then struck an ATV carrying two Tesla safety managers. "When one of the safety managers dismounted the ATV and approached the Jeep, the driver of the Jeep accelerated into him, striking him in the waist."
Reno Gazette-Journal's Publisher John Maher made a brief statement on the incident.
“We take this situation very seriously and it is under investigation at this time," Maher said.
UPDATE: The Reno Gazette-Journal's lawyer has now refuted the claims of what happened on October 9th after the trespass in a letter to Tesla, saying that it was Tesla's security personnel who roughed up the journalists
Tesla Statement on the Friday, October 9th incident:
Journalists Trespass, Assault Tesla employees at the Gigafactory
Last Friday at approximately 11:50 am, a Tesla safety manager received a complaint about two trespassers taking pictures at the Gigafactory. The Tesla employee requested assistance and the Storey County Sheriff’s department was alerted.
Pretty Remote Indeed
After locating the two trespassers, the Tesla employee approached them. He asked their names and notified them that they were trespassing on Tesla property. They refused to provide their names, despite the Reno Gazette Journal (“RGJ”) ID credentials hanging from their pockets. They also denied that they were trespassing even though they had climbed through a fence designated with "private property" signs.
The vehicle belonging to the two trespassers was a Jeep marked with RGJ decals on both doors. The two individuals were later identified as RGJ employees.
The two RGJ employees and the Tesla employee were then met at the Jeep by a second safety manager at the Gigafactory. The two Gigafactory safety managers asked the RGJ employees to wait before departing, as security management and the Sheriff’s Department were en route to the scene. Disregarding this request, the RGJ employees entered the Jeep. As the Tesla employee attempted to record the license plate number on the rear bumper, 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.
As the RGJ employees fled the scene, their Jeep struck the ATV that carried the two safety managers. When one of the safety managers dismounted the ATV and approached the Jeep, the driver of the Jeep accelerated into him, striking him in the waist.
Once the Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene, they arrested one of the RGJ employees for two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon and advised that both will be charged with trespassing.
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.