U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Tulsa multimedia journalist shot with pellet gun while preparing for live shot

Incident Details

Date of Incident
March 16, 2022
Tulsa, Oklahoma


Was the journalist targeted?

This frame from footage provided to Tulsa Police shows KJRH-TV journalist Katie Keleher moments before individuals in the car behind her shot at her with a pellet gun as she prepared for a live shot on March 16, 2022.

March 16, 2022

Katie Keleher, a multimedia journalist with NBC-affiliated station KJRH-TV, was shot with a pellet gun while reporting in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, on March 16, 2022.

KJRH reported that Keleher was preparing for a live shot just before 10 p.m. near the corner of Reconciliation Way and Main Street when a group of people pulled up in a car. One of the individuals pointed a pellet gun out of the window and shot at Keleher and her photographer.

“We picked that area because as journalists, we think about our safety first, and I felt safe in that spot,” Keleher told the station. “All of a sudden, I felt something hitting my back and I just froze. Just little pellets and I just remember my jaw dropping and I just froze in fear."

Keleher wrote on Twitter that she was struck in the back with around five pellets, but that her photographer, whom she identified as Marisa, wasn’t hit.

“Thankfully, the puffy jacket I was wearing softened the blow. If not for that, I would probably have bruises all over my back,” Keleher wrote in a follow-up tweet.

Keleher told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that while the individuals would have seen the broadcast camera and lighting rig, she didn’t think she was targeted for being a journalist.

“Police video shows them driving down the street further and shooting at someone sitting outside of a restaurant, so I think it was just because I was standing there on the corner,” Keleher said.

The Tulsa Police Department said they are searching for a tan Nissan sedan in connection with the attack and released footage on Facebook on March 21 asking for the public’s help in identifying the shooters.

Michael Perry, senior director of external communication at KJRH’s parent company Scripps, told the Tracker that police have not updated the station with any information since the attack.

According to Fox23, multiple individuals have been shot with pellet guns in recent weeks and the incidents may be part of a social media trend. The TPD did not respond to requests about whether the incidents are related or provide further information.

“Police are saying this is part of a TikTok trend and I’ve seen it happening in other states, and I just don’t understand why anyone would think it was okay to do that, why it’s funny,” Keleher said. “I was pretty scared for a couple days after and it was definitely a terrifying and traumatizing experience and I was just standing on a corner trying to do my job.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comment from Katie Keleher.

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