Here’s a story you don’t read often: “Journalists Trespass, Assault Tesla employees at the Gigafactory.” That’s from Tesla’s own company blog, which details the happenings of a rather bizarre Friday (October 9) at the Gigafactory construction site in Nevada, where the company is building what will be the largest battery production facility in the world.
Since the Gigafactory was announced, it has been subjected to intense speculation about its scale and capabilities. See, it’s not just a battery factory for the sake of removing a third party from Tesla’s supply chain; the company’s Model 3 — and future — hinge on the ability for Tesla to get the plant up and running at capacity as soon as possible. Members of the media have been adamant about trying to lower the company’s guard into talking about it, but a couple of avant-garde reporters from the Reno Gazette Journal decided to take it a step further. Well, numerous steps further. From the blog:
“Last Friday at approximately 11:50 a.m., 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.”
Initially, the duo feigned innocence, insisting that they were not trespassing on Tesla property (despite, as the company noted, the location being plastered in “private property” signs). They refused to give their names to the safety manager, despite the obvious “Reno Gazette Journal” IDs they were wearing.
That all sounds pretty tame and business-as-usual for journalists to break and enter to nab some juicy stories on one of the world’s most anticipated construction projects. But then, things went south. Very quickly.
Again, from the blog:
“The vehicle belonging to the two trespassers was a Jeep marked with RGJ [Reno Gazette Journal] 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, (emphasis added) 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.”
Having injured one of the safety managers and apparently deciding that they was already too far down the rabbit hole, “the RGJ employees fled the scene, [striking] 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,” Tesla said.
One of the RGJ employees was arrested for two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon, and both are expected to be charged with trespassing. The Reno Gazette-Journal is a property of Gannett, a national media company.
We understand that the Gigafactory is a huge story, and Tesla’s level of secrecy and security on the project makes it that much more tantalizing, but as a journalist, you never want to become the story. More often than not, it’s done in poor form, you still don’t have the story, and you just look ridiculous. Above all else, don’t assault the employees charged with keeping the place private with your car; it’s just a crappy thing to do. Call it a hunch, but we have a feeling the Reno Gazette-Journal won’t be getting a Model X loaner anytime soon.