Four freelance reporters were robbed at gunpoint on Tuesday night around 8 p.m., when they attempted to shoot video at the Canfield Drive memorial, a street off of West Florissant Avenue, the Daily Riverfront Times reports.
Emily Molli, a freelancer filing for the Chinese Xinhua News Agency, told Daily RFT she was standing behind her cameraman Marcus DiPaola while he was filming. She saw a large group of armed young men wearing masks walking towards them.
“They got closer and then I heard them say, ‘Turn the camera off, turn the camera off,” Molli told Daily RFT. “They came sort of at us and tried to grab the camera.”
The reporters began to walk to their car, but Molli and DiPaola said the men continued to follow them, yelling. Although they made it inside their Prius, the group caught up to them and started smashing the car windows.
“One guy pulled [the car door] back open, got a gun out of his backpack and pointed it at my head. He tells me to get out of the car and give me the keys,” said Molli. “That’s what I did.”
“Fifteen to twenty males followed us with guns and hammers out,” confirmed DiPaola. “Every single one of them had masks on.”
DiPaola, Molli, and their colleagues escaped on foot, telling the Daily RFT that a church group, who just happened to be in the neighborhood delivering Thanksgiving turkeys, helped the journalists and took them to a police checkpoint.
Robberies and assaults on journalists covering the Ferguson riots also happened during the August violence that erupted after the shooting of Michael Brown. Reporters have been pelted with rocks, and robbery attempts on photojournalists’ equipment have happened. During the August riots, a small video camera was stolen out of the hands of a Breitbart News reporter by an individual who first attempted to steal a cell phone.