A photojournalist for WFMZ-TV in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was hit multiple times by airsoft projectiles while on assignment on July 11, 2023.
One of the objects struck the photojournalist in the corner of the eye, causing an irritation but no lingering injuries and did not require medical attention, WFMZ-TV News Director Brad Rinehart told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker via email.
A fellow reporter was not hit and no equipment was affected or damaged, Rinehart added. He declined to name the news staffers.
The photojournalist and the reporter were at the scene of a homicide that had occurred a few days earlier inside a home on the 300 block of North 16th Street in Allentown when “a person in a passing car fired shots from an airsoft gun,” lehighvallylive.com reported.
“The photojournalist was taking pictures with his phone, and not a full-fledged television camera, at the time of the attack,” Rinehart said. “He was not wearing station-branded attire, and he was across the street from the branded news vehicle.”
Rinehart said he had no evidence that the attack was aimed at the staffer due to his job. “On the other hand, [the photojournalist] had been shooting with his TV camera earlier in the day and may have been identified by the shooter. Another reporter from our staff reported seeing a car circling the area on the morning of the attack,” Rinehart said.
On the evening of the attack, WFMZ-TV News Anchor Rob Vaughn, with the station for more than 35 years, tweeted: “Awful: Today a @69News crew covering a 16th St, #Allentown homicide was *shot at* by someone w/ a pellet gun (Airsoft?) fired from a passing car. Pellets hit our photographer in the head, including face. He's OK. If you know anything about it, call @AllentownPolice”
The incident, which was reported to the Allentown City Police, was confirmed by Capt. Kyle Pammer, who said no suspects had been named, nor any leads, and no arrests had been made as of July 19. Pammer also said the incident does not appear to be targeted and that the investigation is ongoing.
In May, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker reported the assault of a WTXF-TV FOX29 news crew who was shot at with a pellet gun from a moving vehicle while reporting outside of City Hall in Philadelphia.