U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

High school coach in Arkansas arrested after threatening journalist

Incident Details

March 6, 2018

Mitchell McCoy, a reporter for KARK/Fox 16, was harassed and threatened by a high school coach in Little Rock, Arkansas, on March 6, 2018. McCoy had questioned the coach about his social media posts.

After McCoy saw that McClellan High School coach Lance Fritchman had posted on social media in support of president Donald Trump and the deportation of undocumented immigrants, McCoy asked the school about its policies regarding employees’ social media use. Soon after, on Friday, March 2, the school put Fritchman on paid administrative leave.

On Monday, March 5, Fritchman went to the KARK/FOX 16 studios at the Victory Building in Little Rock, Arkansas. He later told police that he did so because he believed McCoy caused his suspension from his coaching job.

A police report obtained by the Arkansas Times notes that Fritchman attempted to contact McCoy via phone starting at 7am, and left messages telling him to “come out and let’s handle this man to man.” The report reads, “Fritchman was vocally aggressive while speaking with officer and on the voice mails. McCoy advised he felt threatened by the voice mail and a word Fritchman used ‘efforting’ — according to the Urban Dictionary meaning ‘mouth punch.’”

Fritchman was ordered to refrain from further calls or returning to the Victory Building, and that his communications had been documented as harassing. He was informed that any future correspondence should go through the Little Rock School District.

According to Arkansas Matters, Fritchman returned and continued to call the station.

On the morning of March 6, Fritchman was arrested on charges of criminal trespassing. He remains on paid administrative leave.

On March 7, a Twitter account by the name of Lance Fritchman tweeted (and later deleted): “A criminal trespass is a Class C misdemeanor. Barely more than a speeding ticket. If found guilty maximum fine $500. That is all I can say at this time.”

A second tweet reads: “Just remember there are 2 sides to every story and I don’t have the power 2 broadcast mine all around central Arkansas. Mine will come out soon.”

McClellan High School declined to comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].