U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

KAPP-KVEW reporter Maria Leal threatened with knife, had camera damaged

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 30, 2017
Yakima, Washington


Was the journalist targeted?

Equipment Damage

Equipment Broken
Maria Leal
October 30, 2017

Maria Leal, a reporter for local TV station KAPP-KVEW, was chased and threatened by a knife-wielding man in Yakima, Washington, on Oct. 30, 2017. The man also broke Leal’s camera equipment.

At the time of the attack, Leal and another local TV reporter — Trisha McCauley, of KIMA Action News — were shooting B-roll footage in preparation for an interview with Jason White, a local city council candidate. While filming the footage, the two journalists noticed a man screaming at them from across the street.

“He crossed the street and got in our face, and he told us, ‘Get the fuck out of here, stop filming here,’” Leal said said.

The man left after Leal and McCauley began interviewing White, but later returned.

“The man began yelling again, and he threw a beer bottle at us, which landed near us and broke,” Leal said. “He kept demanding that we leave, and he threatened to kill us.”

She said the man drew a knife from his pocket, lifted it, and then ran towards the reporters and White.

Leal said that the man chased them for half a block and then returned to the interview site, where he threw their video equipment to the ground.

He then barricaded himself in a house, leading to a police stand-off that was resolved a few hours later when SWAT officers took him into custody, arresting him for second-degree assault.

Leal stayed on the scene to report live from the police stand-off.

Leal said that her camera was damaged when the man threw it on the ground and that she will have to film stories with her phone until the camera is fixed.

She still does not know why the man attacked her and McCauley. She said that the man may have mistakenly believed that the two reporters were filming him, but her cameras were nowhere near where he was standing.

“I’ve had other people approach me in that way, but they’ve never threatened me or attacked me like that,” she said.

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