Breaking news is an exciting beat.
Sometimes, it gets so exciting it’s downright dangerous.
A long time ago, when I still mixed enthusiasm with foolishness, I rushed to the scene of a shooting, zipped past the crime scene tape and entered a home. A kind police officer in the house had a gun drawn and told me to “get the [bleep] out” because the suspect was hiding in a nearby closet.
When Fulton courthouse shooter Brian Nichols was on the run in 2005, he carjacked a fellow AJC employee from our parking building.
More recently, in Australia, a TV news cameraman was tasked with going to the scene of a shooting but wound up being taken captive by the gunman.
It began innocently enough, with the cameraman, Peter Steer, rushing to the scene of a domestic shooting.
On the way, he was hailed in the Channel 7 news van by a Harley-Davidson rider who said, “I’ve got a story for you.”
Steer said, “Well mate, you better hurry because I’m going to a shooting.”
The Harley rider said “Mate, I’m the shooter.”
Being a good cameraman, Steer began filming and the biker, on video, began crying and asked Steer to call police. He even handed the cameraman his gun, which Steer placed in the news van while calling police.
While waiting for police to arrive, the unnamed biker had a change of heart, apparently, and seized the news van. The suspect said “don’t be a [bleeping] idiot” and pointed the gun at the newsman while taking the vehicle.
A video camera mounted inside the van captured the ensuing police chase, including the crash into a large gas tank.
The gunman has been charged with a variety of offenses, including attempted murder, but the gun pulled on the cameraman was apparently just a replica weapon.
Steer said he was a bit shaken up but, like most Australians, would be OK after a “big drink.”
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