U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter at Atlanta crime scene assaulted by security guard

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 13, 2021
Atlanta, Georgia


Was the journalist targeted?
June 13, 2021

Mike Petchenik, a reporter for Atlanta’s WSB-TV, said a security guard at a local mall tried to grab his phone from his hand and assaulted him as he was reporting at the scene of a shooting on June 13, 2021.

WSB-TV reported that two 15-year-olds had approached a Lenox Square Mall security guard and shot him, before fleeing to a nearby hotel where they were captured and arrested. The security guard was taken to the hospital for wounds to his chest and stomach but was recovering, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Petchenik told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he was reporting about the incident from off of mall property, but after he walked into the parking lot he saw someone running in his direction out of the corner of his eye.

In a clip Petchenik posted just before 10 p.m., a security guard can be seen walking toward Petchenik and grabbing his phone before the video suddenly stops.

“You don’t know what we just witnessed out here,” the guard can be heard saying in the clip.

“I was able to wrangle my phone back from her and tell her to get her hands off of me at that point,” Petchenik said. “We were within the view and earshot of police officers but they didn’t really do anything other than tell me that I could stand there.”

Petchenik said he identified himself and was wearing a station polo shirt during the incident, but he wasn’t sure whether he had his press credentials.

In response to a comment on the video, Petchenik wrote on Twitter that he understood the security guard was likely frustrated because of the shooting.

“But grabbing my phone and trying to rough me up wasn’t the proper response,” Petchenik wrote. He told the Tracker he decided not to press charges or file a complaint with the security guard’s superiors.

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