A Chicago television news crew reporting on a string of robberies ended up robbed themselves after they were accosted at gunpoint by three armed men wearing ski masks.
Spanish-language station Univision Chicago said a reporter and photographer were filming just before 5 a.m. Monday in Chicago’s West Town neighbourhood when three masked men brandishing firearms robbed them, taking their television camera and other items.
“They were approached with guns and robbed. Mainly it was personal items, and they took a camera,” Luis Godinez, vice president of news at Univision Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune.
Godinez said the news crew was filming a story about robberies in the West Town community that was slated to run on the morning news. He said the footage they shot was in the stolen camera, and the story never made it on the air.
Chicago police identified the victims as a 28-year-old man and 42-year-old man. Police said the pair was outside when the three men drove up in a gray sedan and black SUV. After the armed robbers took items from the news crew they fled in their vehicles.
No injuries were reported and no one is in custody, police said.
Godinez said Univision Chicago, the local TV affiliate of international media company TelevisaUnivision, is not disclosing the names of the reporter and photographer to protect their privacy.
“They’re OK, and we’re working on it together as a team,” he said.
The episode was the second robbery this month involving a Chicago news crew, after a WLS-TV photographer was assaulted and robbed on Aug. 8 while preparing to cover a weekday afternoon news conference on Chicago’s West Side, the station reported.
The robberies prompted the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians Local 41, which represents TV photographers in Chicago, to warn about the growing safety threats to those who cover the news.
“Our news photographers and reporters provide a very important public service in keeping our community informed. We are committed to making sure that their safety comes first,” Raza Siddiqui, president of the union local, said in a statement.
Siddiqui told the Chicago Sun-Times that some of the news stations affiliated with the union planned to take additional safety steps, including assigning security to some TV crews.
He said the union is arranging a safety meeting for members to “voice some of their concerns that they may have from the streets” and to determine what the union can do to provide support for its members.