May 18, 2024
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By Timothy Bella

A Chicago TV crew, while covering an increase in armed robberies on Monday, was robbed by gunpoint as they filmed.

The Chicago Police Department told The Washington Post that a reporter and a photographer were just about to shoot a live shot in Wicker Park before 5 am when two vehicles pulled up. A black SUV and gray sedan. The Chicago Police Department said that three male suspects “wore ski masks, and displayed firearms,” as they left their vehicles.

According to Chicago Sun-Times, Raza Saiddiqui is the president of Local 41 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, the union that represents Chicago TV photographers.

The Post reported that Chicago Police spokesman Jose Lemus Cortez said, “They then stole the victims’ possessions and fled back to their vehicles.”

Although the police have not confirmed the victim’s employment, Spanish-language television station Univision Chicago has told the local media two employees of theirs, who are not identified, aged 28 and 42, were held hostage at gunpoint.

Luis Godinez is the vice president for news at Univision Chicago. He told the Chicago Tribune that “they were approached by armed men and robbed.” Godinez didn’t immediately reply to a comment request Tuesday morning.

Police reported that no injuries had been sustained at the incident. As of Tuesday morning detectives have not arrested any suspects.

Chicago Police are currently investigating at least 8 armed robberies that took place on Sunday and Monday. The police haven’t linked the crimes, but they have stated that in each incident a group between two and four individuals ambushed the victim.

data tracked by Chicago Police shows that the homicide rate in the city has dropped 8 percent since August 20, 2022. The shooting rate is down also 11 percent. Police data show that there were more than 6,500 reports of robbery in 2023, as of last Sunday. This is a 23 percent increase compared to this time last. More than 19,500 motor vehicle theft reports have been filed, a 99 percent increase compared to August 2022.

The spokesperson for Chicago’s Mayor Brandon Johnson did not respond immediately to an inquiry for comments Tuesday morning. According to WLS TV Chicago ABC affiliate The Mayor’s Office released a press release Monday stating that detectives and the bureau of patrol are working in tandem with each other on robbery cases and vehicle thefts.

In recent years, television news crews have been faced with increased threats while working. Reporter Alison Parker of CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ and photojournalist Adam Ward were killed during a live television interview in August 2015. Crews from Raleigh, San Francisco, and Miami Beach were attacked in 2021 while trying to perform their duties.

This is the second incident in just three weeks where a Chicago TV team has been robbed as they covered a story.

A WLS-TV photographer was assaulted on Aug. 8 and robbed as he covered a press conference in Chicago’s West Side. The station said earlier in the month that there were only minor injuries and that police would be investigating.

Godinez informed the Tribune that Univision Chicago broadcasted about the robbery at 5 pm, but decided to not make it the main focus of its coverage.

He said, “We didn’t want the story to be about us because other robberies occurred during that period.”

Siddiqui, who spoke to the Sun-Times about the situation in which TV crews are operating on the road, said that the Sun-Times and other stations affiliated with the union were working towards taking extra steps for the safety of the television crews.

Siddiqui stated, “We are looking for a solution that will last longer. We want to work with our management and members and read protocols that all feel comfortable with.

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