WANF television reporter Asia Wilson and photographer Lauren Swaim were held hostage for about an hour and a half in the late evening of Dec. 11, 2023, while on assignment in Jonesboro, Georgia. Neither journalist was injured and the man who threatened them was arrested.
Wilson and Swaim were preparing to go live from the parking lot of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office shortly before 11 p.m. when a man approached their marked news vehicle, the station reported. The man allegedly said he had a gun and would shoot them if they called for help.
Allen Devlin, an anchor at WANF, told the station that the newsroom lost all contact with the journalists until they started receiving surreptitious texts from Wilson at approximately 10:44 p.m. that Devlin called “bone-chilling.”
“It was just things like — sporadic, not even in complete sentences — ‘we need help,’ ‘we’re scared’ and ‘he’s going to shoot,’” he said.
The newsroom alerted the sheriff’s office and, when they did not receive confirmation of the crew’s safety, called 911.
Assignment Editor Gary Stilwell said an officer called him back and said that he had spoken with the crew — a man and a woman — and that they were safe. Gary responded that both journalists were women, and asked the officer to go back.
As time continued to pass, three WANF employees took it upon themselves to drive the 20 minutes to the sheriff’s office, flagging down a police officer along the way.
WANF reported that approximately an hour and a half after Wilson and Swaim were taken hostage, police arrived at the scene and arrested the man, later identified as Brandon R. Logan. Neither journalist was injured and police did not recover a firearm.
Logan was charged with false imprisonment, simple battery, simple assault, terroristic threats and loitering or prowling, among others. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2024.
According to WSB-TV, Logan allegedly shoved one of the station’s employees and attempted to strike the other.
WANF Vice President and General Manager Erik Schrader said the broadcast outlet’s focus is on getting answers on how law enforcement responded.
“What we’re really looking for is to figure out what took so long,” Schrader said. “Where was the breakdown, what caused this to last seemingly a whole lot longer than it needed to last.”
Neither journalist nor WANF responded to requests for additional comment.