San Francisco News Crews Robbed, Photographer Attacked

By Kevin Eck 

Two news crews had their cameras stolen this morning and a photographer was pistol-whipped while reporting on a homicide along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.

SFGate reports that reaction to the attack can be seen during a KTVU live shot. Cara Liu, a reporter for the Fox-owned station, was on air when the attackers “ran up and stole camera equipment” from NBC-owned KNTV, which was also on scene. KNTV photog Alan Waples was pistol-whipped during the robbery.

KTVU anchor Brian Flores was introducing the story and preparing to go live to Liu when she appeared startled and said, “Hold on, hold on, wait,” before disappearing from the screen, as KNTV reporter Kris Sanchez and camera operator Alan Waples, 54, were being robbed at gunpoint by a young man.

The assailant came up behind Waples, who was was adjusting Sanchez’s lighting, and put a gun to his head.

“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” Sanchez yelled.

Waples said, “Take the camera!” He recalled later that he was waiting for the click of the gun.

“I thought he was going to kill Alan,” Sanchez said.

The man then threw him to the ground and hit him with the gun in the ear, causing a large gash and leaving a big bruise on his upper arm.

All of this unfolded quickly as KTVU was broadcasting live, although the incident wasn’t audible.

“Cara, you still there?” Flores asked.

“Sorry, there’s an incident out here,” she replied as she and KTVU photographer Keith Crook left to tend to the stricken KNTV crew.

“What’s going on out there, Cara, doing OK?” Flores asked.

When she did not respond, Flores told viewers, “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.”

The robber stole a camera and tripod belonging to KNTV and struggled to put it in a black BMW, before hitting Waples one more time and telling Sanchez to get on the ground, she said. The man took KTVU’s camera and tripod and fled, leaving behind an ammunition clip.

“There’s no time for anything to go through your mind,” Waples said. “When he was gone, it was a relief.”

Crews from KRON and KGO-TV were also there but weren’t robbed.

[Rich Lieberman]