U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

PA photographer, investigative reporter assaulted by business owner

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 15, 2022


Was the journalist targeted?

A business owner in South Centre Township, Pennsylvania, center, confronts WBRE/WYOU Eyewitness News Reporter Andy Mehalshick and the photojournalist capturing the incident, on June 15, 2022. The man later pleaded guilty to harassment charges.

June 15, 2022

A WBRE/WYOU Eyewitness News crew was attacked by a local business owner in South Centre Township, Pennsylvania, on June 15, 2022. The man was subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty to charges of harassment.

Photojournalist L Bacerra and investigative reporter Andy Mehalshick were reporting on claims that Vision Home Builders had closed without warning in April and owed customers tens of thousands of dollars for incomplete or never started homes, according to Eyewitness News.

When the news crew approached the shuttered business to ask for the owner, Jeff McCreary, they were told to “get lost.” Moments later, Mehalshick and Bacerra were filming as a customer approached the same office and a man and woman, later identified as McCreary and his wife, stepped outside the building to respond to her. McCreary became physical with the customer, eventually pushing her off the office’s porch and to the ground.

“Then McCreary turned his attention to us,” Mehalshick said in his report for Eyewitness News.

In footage from the incident, McCreary walked up to the pair of journalists, only identifying himself as the property owner before repeatedly shoving the journalists and attacking the camera. It is unclear whether the camera was damaged during the incident.

“Get off the property! Get off my property!” McCreary says. “Erase that camera!”

“Don’t assault us here!” Mehalshick responds.

“Erase that camera!” McCreary says as he again punches at the camera lens.

Mehalshick reported that he called the police to report the incident as McCreary continued to accost them.

Eyewitness News reported that McCreary was charged with two counts of harassment and disorderly conduct for the attack on Mehalshick and Bacerra. McCreary was also charged with simple assault and harassment for the attack on the customer.

McCreary appeared for a preliminary hearing in January 2023, during which a judge dismissed the simple assault charge, according to the outlet. He pleaded guilty to the three counts of harassment on March 3, at which time Judge Gary Norton appears to have dropped the disorderly conduct charge.

McCreary was sentenced to nine months probation and issued $900 in fines. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victims and pay the costs of prosecution.

Following the sentencing in March 2023, neither journalist responded to emails requesting comment, and the South Center Township Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for additional information.

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