Reporter Dillon Collier was shot at from close range by a man with two handguns as he covered a story about a house fire in San Antonio, Texas, on July 5, 2021.
Collier, who is an investigative reporter for KSAT News 12 in San Antonio, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he and video journalist Joshua Saunders were assigned to cover a fire that took place overnight Sunday into Monday, after shell casings had been found at the scene and arson investigators were looking into whether someone had shot into the home or started the fire intentionally. Saunders' assault is documented here.
Collier and Saunders arrived to find people standing around the fire-damaged home. As Saunders gathered footage, Collier — who said he was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the station logo — interviewed the owner of the house.
“She was very emotional, said she had grown up there, but had lost track of who had been staying there in recent years, after her father had gotten sick and had been forced to move in with a sibling.” After the interview ended they moved closer to the home to shoot additional footage.
Collier, a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year, said a female family member came running toward them as Saunders set up his camera, screaming that a relative had a gun and was going to kill them. The journalists quickly moved behind an SUV.
“The man then emerged from the home holding two large handguns, one in each hand. He said something to the effect of us not asking his permission to be there,” Collier told the Tracker. Collier ran away down a sidewalk as the man fired toward Saunders, who had run in the opposition direction.
“I remember him firing two shots at us from very close range, less than 10 feet away,” Collier said. “I then ran to my left and headed east from the home along a sidewalk as the man fired shots in the opposite direction from me, toward where Josh was running.”
An SUV containing family members overtook Saunders. A second car carrying more people associated with the home pulled up to Collier after he had run a few blocks and offered to drive him to safety. Both Collier and Saunders called 911 to report the shooting.
As Collier’s group found Saunders near a parked vehicle, the gunman rode in front of them on bicycle and ditched it on the sidewalk. He then jumped a metal gate and entered a home a block from the burned home.
San Antonio police officers then arrived and set up a perimeter, Collier said. A homicide detective interviewed everyone targeted by the gunman, as a standoff lasting several hours took place.
“A few hours later the San Antonio police chief showed up and informed the media that the gunman had been killed by officers after firing at them in the backyard of the home he went into,” Collier said.
The San Antonio Police Department didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Collier said he believed he and Saunders had been targeted because they were members of the media. He said KSAT management had repeatedly asked whether they were OK, and had offered them counseling.