Detroit — A local TV crew’s request to interview an 88-year-old robbery victim was met with gunfire Monday on the city’s east side, according to the station.
WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) reporter Jonathan Carlson and a cameraman were trying to interview a senior citizen, who was robbed at gunpoint, when the rattled victim chased them off of his porch with a gun and fired a shot at 5:47 p.m.
Ed Fernandez, WXYZ-TV vice president and general manager, called the incident “pretty alarming” and “sad all the way around.”
Police say a woman asking for help came to the victim’s home in the 3300 block of Arndt Street at 6 p.m. Thursday, Officer Jennifer Moreno said. When he opened the door, two men knocked him down and ordered him to go upstairs, where they covered him in a blanket and bound him with a phone cord, she said.
The bandits ransacked his house, making off with $600 and a cellphone.
“He was able to break free of the telephone cord,” Moreno said. “He had to find a cellphone in the house that the suspects didn’t take. But the phone was dead, so he waited for it to charge and called 911.
Four days later, Carlson knocked on the victim’s door and identified himself multiple times in his attempt to speak with him, the station said. The man came to the door with a pistol and the crew tried to flee.
“The man came out on the porch, looked at Carlson and fired a shot, while the photographer was still on the porch trying to escape,” a WXYZ report said on the incident. “After the shot was fired from about 10 feet away, the crew ran for cover behind the news van, then noticing the man went back inside, they ran behind a farther away tree and called 911.”
Police responded and took the elderly man away in cuffs. Officers did not find his firearm in the home, Moreno said.
He was taken to a local crisis center and has since been conveyed to Detroit Receiving Hospital for a psychological evaluation. It is unclear whether the man will face charges in the incident, but the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office had not received a warrant request from police Tuesday morning, Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller said.
WJBK-TV (Channel 2) reporter Marielle Lue witnessed the shot fired and the WXYZ crew running for cover. She had spoken with the man, who refused to open the door for an interview, shortly before the WXYZ crew tried to reach him.
“Despite the news van and Lue’s microphone, he was convinced she was not who she said she was and accused her of setting him up for another robbery,” the station said on its website.
Moreno said the victim most likely was unable to see the reporters due to his bad vision.
“He does not have good eye sight, so he wouldn’t be able to identify those involved previously,” she said.
No one was injured in the shooting.
Fernandez said the incident opens up the discussion on reporting techniques.
“Safety is the utmost importance for our employees and we certainly try to avoid these situations, but you just never know what can happen. Word of caution to other media, or even if you are a utility company or a service provider, you just never know, things can happen and get out of hand.”
Fernandez said the employees were offered assistance services after the incident. He declined to say if Carlson or the cameraman had returned to work Tuesday.