U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Tennessee man threatens three journalists with ax; charges later dropped

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 26, 2017


Was the journalist targeted?
April 26, 2017

Three WTVF journalists were threatened with an ax on April 26, 2017, while trying to interview a man living in a vacant home in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Charges against the man for assault and reckless endangerment were dropped a month later.

According to a police incident report, producer Kevin Wisniewski, photojournalist Bob Stinnett and reporter Ben Hall visited the Nashville suburb to investigate claims that Jude Pischke had been living in an unoccupied house there for more than two years despite having no legal claims to the property.

Video taken by Stinnett of the incident shows Hall approaching Pischke to question him about the house. Pischke demands that the news crew leave, then retrieves an ax from the bed of a pickup truck and charges toward them, swinging the ax.

As the crew backs away from Pischke, Hall can be heard saying, “We’re backing up. We’re leaving right now.” The Tennessean newspaper reported that Pischke then got into a vehicle and drove aggressively toward them.

Police officers arrested Pischke during a traffic stop later that day and charged him with three counts of aggravated assault and three counts of reckless endangerment against Wisniewski, Stinnett and Hall, according to the incident report.

The prosecutor declined to pursue the charges as of May 22, 2017, the Wilson County Clerk told the Tracker, and the case against Pischke was closed.

WTNV reported that prosecutors struck a deal with Pischke, requiring him to move out within two weeks from the house where the confrontation took place.

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