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Journalists “Assault” Tesla Gigafactory Employees While Trespassing

A new blog posting on the Tesla website has revealed that just last Friday there was an incident at the company’s Gigafactory construction site involving two journalists apparently trespassing and then assaulting a Tesla security employee (safety manager) that tried to detain them.

The incident occurred at around 11:50 am reportedly, and involved two employees of the Reno Gazette Journal taking photographs while on Tesla land. The two employees apparently refused to provide their names when asked at the time, and then didn’t heed a request to remain at the location until the local Sheriff’s Department had time to arrive.

JB Straubel and Steve roof of Tesla Gigafactory

There are always two sides to stories like these, but to get things going here’s a brief overview via Tesla (of the company’s version of events of course; tip of the hat to “yobigd20” on the Tesla Motors Club forum):

Last Friday at approximately 11:50 am, a Tesla safety manager received a complaint about two trespassers taking pictures at the Gigafactory. The Tesla employee requested assistance and the Storey County Sheriff’s department was alerted.

After locating the two trespassers, the Tesla employee approached them. He asked their names and notified them that they were trespassing on Tesla property. They refused to provide their names, despite the Reno Gazette Journal (“RGJ”) ID credentials hanging from their pockets. They also denied that they were trespassing even though they had climbed through a fence designated with “private property” signs. The vehicle belonging to the two trespassers was a Jeep marked with RGJ decals on both doors. The two individuals were later identified as RGJ employees.

The two RGJ employees and the Tesla employee were then met at the Jeep by a second safety manager at the Gigafactory. The two Gigafactory safety managers asked the RGJ employees to wait before departing, as security management and the Sheriff’s Department were en route to the scene. Disregarding this request, the RGJ employees entered the Jeep. As the Tesla employee attempted to record the license plate number on the rear bumper, the driver put it in reverse and accelerated into the Tesla employee, knocking him over, causing him to sustain a blow to the left hip, an approximate 2” bleeding laceration to his right forearm, a 3” bleeding laceration to his upper arm, and scrapes on both palms. As the RGJ employees fled the scene, their Jeep struck the ATV that carried the two safety managers. When one of the safety managers dismounted the ATV and approached the Jeep, the driver of the Jeep accelerated into him, striking him in the waist.

After the Sheriff’s Department got to the location, one of the two trespassers was reportedly arrested — with the charges being two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon. Both trespassers will reportedly be charged for trespassing as well.

Ascertaining the truth after the fact in situations like this can often really be quite difficult, it should be noted — so who can tell simply from reading one blog posting what actually happened?

To add a somewhat different view to this though, a story published in the Reno Gazette did note that: “The newspaper’s vehicle was damaged in the altercation. A rock had been used to shatter the driver’s-side window and the driver’s-side seat belt had been cut in half.” (Thanks “brucett999”).


We’ll keep you posted on further developments as this story unfolds.

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.


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