U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Louisiana photojournalist attacked, his camera thrown

Incident Details

March 29, 2023

WVUE Fox8 News photojournalist Steven A. Wolfram told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he was repeatedly attacked by a man while reporting on shooting deaths in Slidell, Louisiana, on March 29, 2023.

Wolfram said he and WVUE reporter Olivia Vidal were filming outside a home where police had discovered what appeared to be a murder-suicide following a standoff with SWAT officers. Vidal told the Tracker two other news crews were at the scene, and that family members had made it clear they did not want to speak to the press and didn’t want anyone approaching the house. By approximately 8 a.m. the other news crews had left the scene.

Vidal told the Tracker that when preparing for the 9 a.m. live broadcast, she asked Wolfram to keep an eye out, as something felt off. When they completed the report, Wolfram left the station’s camera and live unit set up on a tripod and he and Vidal returned to their vehicle.

“This young man starts marching toward the camera,” Wolfram said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve been doing it in some of the toughest neighborhoods in New Orleans. I wasn’t expecting it, and I think that was my first mistake.”

Wolfram said he got out of the car and tried to deescalate the situation and explain why they were there, but the man grabbed the tripod, camera and live unit and threw it on the ground. Though Wolfram was able to soften the blow, a piece of the wireless microphone broke.

While he was turned away, the man struck Wolfram in the side of the head.

“My first thought was, ‘I can’t believe that didn’t knock me out,’” Wolfram said. “I was stunned but was able to retreat back to the car. He starts banging on the window. We told him, ‘We’re calling the cops! We’re calling the cops!’”

Vidal said the man came around to the passenger side where she was sitting, attempted to open the door and continued pounding on the glass.

Three individuals pulled the attacker away, providing an opportunity for Wolfram to retrieve the equipment and load it into the vehicle. When Wolfram attempted to photograph the man to show police, the man once again charged the photojournalist.

Wolfram said the man missed making contact and fell, then got up to charge him again. That’s when he grabbed the man by the collar and tried to restrain him on the ground. The other individuals intervened again and separated the man from the photojournalist.

Wolfram said he drove the vehicle around the corner to distance the pair of journalists from the situation while waiting for the police. The man broke away from the group restraining him and ran to a nearby car, Wolfram said, where he reached into the glove box.

“At that point we got the hell out of there,” Wolfram said. “This guy wanted to hurt me if not kill me, and I saw him go run for a weapon.”

Vidal told the Tracker three officers and an ambulance met the journalists in the parking lot of a nearby restaurant. Wolfram sought medical care after speaking with sheriff’s deputies about the incident, and reported minor injuries.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a summons was issued in connection with the incident for simple assault and criminal damage.

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