SAN FRANCISCO — Two news crews in the San Francisco Bay area were attacked at gunpoint early Thursday while preparing to cover the apparent random fatal shooting of a tourist visiting the city with her family, the San Francisco Police Department said.
The violent robbery happened around 6 a.m. at Pier 14, where four broadcast crews were set up to go live. Video from the KTVU broadcast shows anchor Brian Flores tossing to reporter Cara Liu just as she notices a masked man approach the KNTV team.
“Hold on, hold on wait!” Liu says as she runs off camera. “There was an incident out here.”
“What’s going on out there, Cara, doing OK?” Flores asked. “OK, looks like there’s some type of incident going on with Cara Liu out there. Not exactly sure what is going on . . . Let’s try to get more information on what’s going on with Cara. Hopefully, she’s doing OK, first off.”
KNTV’s photographer and reporter said that as the two were about to go on air, a man pulled up to the curb in a black four-door BMW, approached photographer Alan Waples and pistol-whipped him with a gun as he shoved him to the ground. The man then grabbed the photographer’s camera gear and held him and reporter Kris Sanchez at gunpoint, the station reported.
“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” Sanchez yelled.
The suspect then turned the gun on a KTVU photographer and stole his camera and tripod before fleeing in a car with two other men, police said, leaving an ammunition clip at the scene.
Waples was treated for head injuries. According to NBC, he was checked out by paramedics and later declared OK. The other three victims were not injured.
SF Gate reported that crews from San Fransisco’s KRON and KGO were also there but were not robbed.
According to police, the suspects are described as three black males wearing dark clothing, with one suspect having dreadlocks. They fled the scene in a black BMW 7 series. The suspects are still at large.
This incident is not the first time that news crews have been targeted in the Bay Area. Stations have resorted to hiring security guards to accompany crews to certain stories, particularly those in Oakland.
The four news crews were covering the fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle, 31, which occurred at the same spot on Pier 14 the day before, police said. The apparently random attack occurred in an area frequently visited by tourists and generally regarded as safe.
According to SFPD, officers responded to a call at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday to find Steinle suffering from a gunshot wound to her upper torso. The victim was immediately transported to San Fransisco General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Minutes after the incident, officers received a description of a suspect. Officers flooded the area in search of the suspect and made an arrest just before 7:30 p.m.
Francisco Sanchez, 45, of Texas, was booked at San Francisco County Jail for homicide. Sanchez was out on active probation, police said.