U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Shop owner charged with assaulting journalists, breaking Univision equipment

Incident Details

Courtesy Claudia Buccio/@claudiabucciotv

The owner of a men’s clothing store in La Mesa, California, was arrested and charged with assault of several journalists and damage to this Univision video camera.

— Courtesy Claudia Buccio/@claudiabucciotv
March 10, 2021 - Update

California man sentenced for destruction of reporter’s equipment

The man who threw reporter Claudia Buccio’s video camera to the ground while she was covering allegations against him in La Mesa, California, was sentenced for the equipment damage on March 10, 2021, a clerk at the San Diego Superior Court told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Buccio, then a multimedia journalist for Univision, was capturing footage in January 2020 in front of a men’s apparel store owned by Peter G. Carzis in the San Diego suburb. She was one of a group of journalists there to interview Carzis about allegations he had engaged in lewd and inappropriate behavior.

Buccio reported on Instagram that Carzis suddenly yanked her shoulder, pushed her, then grabbed her camera and smashed it on the ground. KUSI-TV journalists Dan Plante and Michael Saucedo witnessed the incident and intervened; Carzis then rushed them as well.

Carzis was arrested the next day. He pleaded guilty to felony vandalism and was sentenced to two years of probation, including a recommendation that he seek outpatient substance abuse treatment, and was credited for 13 days served in jail and fined $245. He was also ordered to pay restitution but the amount has not yet been specified. Three battery charges and one charge for lewd conduct against him were dismissed.

January 20, 2020

A La Mesa, California, business owner was arrested after altercations with several news crews on Jan. 20, 2020. The man also threw a Univision reporter’s video camera to the ground, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

Reporters and photographers had gathered outside of a men’s apparel store to speak with owner Peter Carzis concerning allegations that he had engaged in lewd and inappropriate behavior in front of his shop.

Claudia Buccio, a multimedia journalist for Univision, posted on Instagram that she was capturing footage in front of the store for her piece and did not see Carzis approach her.

“He yanked my shoulder, pushed me and then he grabbed my camera and threw it to the sidewalk,” she wrote. “Thank God there were fellow journalists in the area who jumped out at my defense.”

Buccio wrote in a subsequent comment that several other news crews were in the area to report on the accusations against Carzis, but were in their vehicles and did not film the attack.

Journalists from independent San Diego station KUSI News were among those who came to Buccio’s defense.

Reporter Dan Plante recounted the incident in a live broadcast that evening.

“The first person he went after when he came out blazing was a young woman from Univision, and he pushed her up against the wall and he took her camera and he threw it in the street and broke it into a hundred pieces,” he said.

Carzis then turned on Plante and KUSI cameraman Michael Saucedo.

Other journalists, including ABC 10News reporter Mimi Elkalla and photographer Virginia Creighton, witnessed the assaults but were not targeted by Carzis.

Plante called 911 and Carzis retreated to his store, locking the door behind him. Carzis was gone by the time police arrived, according to a press release from the La Mesa Police Department.

Police said that after canvassing the area, they located Carzis in nearby San Diego and arrested him on Jan. 21 on charges of misdemeanor battery and felony vandalism.

“Carzis is accused of battering multiple reporters and causing irreparable damage to a video camera reported to be worth approximately $7,000.00,” the press release states.

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