Mississippi authorities have issued arrest warrants for a suspect still on the run after being identified as the man seen accosting a TV reporter during live national news coverage on a beachfront about Hurricane Ida.
The Gulfport Police Department said in a statement Tuesday that arrest warrants have been issued for Benjamin Eugene Dagley, of Wooster, Ohio, charging him with two counts of simple assault, one count of disturbance of the peace and one count of violation of emergency curfew.
A review of Dagley’s criminal history also indicates he faced a previous charge in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and may have violated the terms of his probation that included restrictions on his travel.
The department thanked the public for coming forward in helping to identify the man seen Monday pulling up in a white Ford F-150 truck as MSNBC correspondent Shaquille Brewster was beginning a beachside segment in Gulfport, Miss., on the effects of Hurricane Ida.
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Brewster begins by discussing the return of mail service in the town and people coming back to the beach to walk their dogs as the white truck pulls up in the background and a man gets out of his vehicle and runs toward him. Acknowledging the “random person” approaching, Brewster signals for his camera operator to turn away and toward the beach, as he continues his report.
“I’m going to turn this way, because you know, we deal with some people every once in a while,” Brewster says. “But one thing we are noticing is the mayor says the curfew is still in effect…”
The reporter makes an effort to continue, saying the curfew is expected to be in effect until crews can inspect downed power lines, fallen trees and survey any damage from the storm.
As the man is heard getting louder off camera, Brewster cuts his report short saying, “Craig, I’m going to go ahead and toss it back to you because we have a person who needs a little help right now.”
“Report accurately!” the man suddenly shouts while lunging toward the reporter.
Brewster is seen putting his arm up and another member of the news crew attempts to pull the man back before the screen cuts back to anchor Craig Melvin in the studio.
From his desk, Melvin says, “Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.”
“We’re going to check in with Shaq Brewster to just make sure all is well,” the anchor adds. “There’s a lot of crazy out there… Again, we’ll make sure Shaq is OK.”
Investigators determined that Dagley has already left the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and he is believed to be traveling in a white 2016 Ford F-150, bearing an Ohio license plate. Anyone who knows his whereabouts is instructed to contact their local law enforcement agency.
The police department said it responded to a complaint at around 12:38 p.m. Monday “that an NBC reporter was assaulted by a suspect” who was traveling in the pickup truck on Highway 90 “during a city-wide curfew.” A timestamp seen on the broadcast indicates the incident happened during the live news report that began around 10:23 a.m. local time Monday.
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“Appreciate the concern guys,” Brewster tweeted Monday. “The team and I are all good!”
“This is beyond unacceptable and disgusting,” Melvin also wrote on Twitter, saying Brewster “was trying to do his job on a beach in Gulfport, MS. Shaq is ok. This guy who nearly attacked him clearly is not.”