Journalists Allegedly Broke into a Tesla Factory, Hit Employees With Their Car

Two reporters were arrested for allegedly running over Tesla employees with their newspaper's jeep.

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Oct 13 2015, 6:02pm

Screengrab: YouTube/Black66

Tesla is racing to open the Gigafactory, a massive battery production facility designed to drive down the price of electric cars. Understandably, there's lots of interest in the facility, which is under construction in the outskirts of Reno.

Less understandable is why journalists think it's okay to break into the facility. Last week, two Reno Gazette Journal employees were arrested outside the Gigafactory after an altercation with Tesla employees. Tesla says the journalists jumped the factory's fence, were approached by security, and got back into their cars. They then allegedly ran into a Tesla security guard and hit an ATV carrying two Tesla employees before ultimately being arrested by the local sheriff's department.

Here's how Tesla described the incident in a blog post published Tuesday:

"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."

Others have flown drones over the factory, which isn't illegal.

The Reno Gazette Journal has been doing some of the best reporting in the country on the Gigafactory's progress. Notably, the newspaper's best scoops have not involved actually going to the factory. Last week, for example, a reporter there managed to get Tesla's building permits from the local government, which showed the company has started $45 million worth of construction in the last four months.

In an article posted on its website, Reno Gazette Journal Publisher John Maher said the newspaper is conducting a formal investigation into what happened at the factory. Tesla, meanwhile, says it will prosecute the employees to the full extent of the law.

"We appreciate the interest in the Gigafactory, but the repeated acts of trespassing, including by those working for the RGJ, is illegal, dangerous and needs to stop," the company wrote in the blog post. "In particular, we will not stand for assaults on our employees and are working with law enforcement to investigate this incident and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice."

Motherboard has requested an arrest report from the Storey County Sheriff's department.