A Bloomberg news crew got wrapped up in a little more excitement than the paparazzi story they were working on this afternoon. Their vehicle happened to be similar to one that an LAPD helicopter was searching for in the Sunset Strip area, and they were stopped in the Sunset Plaza parking lot and detained at gunpoint.
The crew happened to be driving around on Sunset Blvd. shortly after a robbery occurred in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division. Apparently, LAPD became aware that the suspects were using credit cards obtained in the robbery on the Sunset Strip, so a police helicopter came to the area to search for the suspect vehicle.
In fact, the robbery suspects very well could have been in the area, as another robbery was reported on the 8900 block of Shoreham Dr. at almost the same time as the helicopter was searching. The suspects were described as two Hispanic males, in their 30′s, both unshaven, and driving a newer dark Yukon type vehicle. They used a semiautomatic black handgun to commit the robbery.
Beverly Hills Police also reported a residential robbery in the minutes following, with initial suspect and vehicle information that indicated there could be a link to even another crime.
Unfortunately for the news crew, their vehicle, a silver SUV, resembled the vehicle used in the robberies. In addition, the crew was driving up and down the strip, presumably looking for paparazzi for their story, and the erratic driving and u-turns made the LAPD helicopter crew even more suspicious.
Brittany Joe was observing the extraction nearby, unaware that police were looking for robbery suspects. She posted a photo of the scene on Twitter and commented:
“This is what happens in West Hollywood, six cop cars with guns drawn on a CAMERA CREW. The sound guy still has his head phones and fanny pack on. Maybe they thought his boom was a gun?”
We asked if she knew the people or just suspected that they were a news crew, and she told us that she had “no idea who they are just heard all the commotion and went to our window and saw the guns drawn and then one by one they came out.”
Kevin Roderick at L.A. Observed soon learned the details about the news crew from Facebook postings from photojournalist Jonathan Alcorn, one of the people involved. He recounted a few details about guns being pointed, a helicopter overhead and the hot temperature of the asphalt, and ended by saying, “We are all fine thanks.”
If you’ve even wondered what it must be like to go through something like this, Alcorn has posted a long blog entry about the experience.