Punched in the Face, Identity Stolen… Just Another Day for RNRF Reporter
HERNANDO – Being a reporter has its ups and downs just like any other profession. Some days you’re shaking hands with the Governor, flying on a vintage aircraft, or getting backstage passes to celebrity events; other days you’re stomping through a downpour trying to get the best shot without ruining your camera.
What people don’t know is that reporters face the threat of attack every day; anything from hate mail, verbal assaults, and property damage, to more serious incidents like death threats, physical attacks, and sometimes murder.
In February, KFMB-TV, CBS 8 Sports Reporter, Kyle Kraska was shot multiple times outside his home in San Diego. Kraska survived the attack and still works at KMFB.
A female news anchor for KATV in Arkansas was brutally raped and murdered in 2008. Her assailant, 29-year-old Lavelle Vance was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2009, for the horrendous crime.
RNRF is attacked almost on a daily basis, usually by the same obsessed viewers who have nothing better to do, but sometimes by individuals with a more nefarious agenda.
In 2012, RNRF began receiving hate mail from 42-year-old Phillip Schryver, who was one of the subjects of a 2011 documentary I produced. By 2012, Schryver’s obsessive behavior had progressed to the point of him creating fake Facebook pages in my likeness and that of RNRF’s, for the purpose of distribution defamatory and libelous information. In 2013, a warrant was issued for Schryver’s arrest and he was eventually taken into custody in October of last year.
Schryver is charged with Fraud and Identity Theft with the purpose to Harass. That case is still pending.
In February, while taking a very rare break away from the news, I was enjoying one of my favorite bands at a local pub. As I was leaving the establishment with a friend, we noticed a couple fighting in the parking lot. As we drew closer to the situation, we noticed that the over 6’ tall man, later identified as 42-year-old Keith Howell, was towering over his wife, screaming at her in a threatening manner. When he noticed me standing nearby, he stated “…And you’re that RNRF m****r f****r” and proceeded to punch me in the head. By the time I was off the ground, Howell and several of his friends were already in a vehicle, leaving the scene. As the vehicle fled the, I captured the tag number, which led deputies to Howell’s location and to his subsequent arrest. Howell is currently out on bond facing one count of Battery.
There are two kinds of dangers associated with working in this field; one comes from those who wish to do harm, for whatever malevolent reason, the other comes in the form of an adrenaline rush, stimulated by beating everyone to the scene of a crime or major incident. I prefer the latter.
We posted the following video on the RNRF facebook page yesterday, but I find it fitting to provide the link again in this article, as a reminder of what we do every day in Hernando County.
Caution: if you are easily offended by foul language or graphic images, do not watch the video:
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