Two journalists were caught trespassing at Tesla’s $5 billion Gigafactory site in Nevada on Friday, one of whom drove into security employees, the electric carmaker said in a blog post.
Photographer Andy Barron, identified by his employer, the Reno Gazette-Journal, was arrested on charges of felony battery, according to the Storey County Sheriff’s Office. Barron and the other journalist were advised they would be charged with trespassing by the Storey County Sheriff’s Office, Tesla said.
The journalists climbed through a fence with “private property” signs on it before being confronted by a security employee, Tesla said. Tesla said the journalists attempted to drive away in a 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,” resulting in two lacerations, scrapes on his palms and a blow to his left hip, Tesla wrote in its blog post.
The Jeep then struck an ATV used by security, Tesla said.
“When one of the safety managers dismounted the ATV and approached the Jeep, the driver of the Jeep accelerated into him, striking him the waist,” Tesla wrote.
The Jeep, property of the newspaper, was damaged, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported in an article about the incident.
“A rock had been used to shatter the driver’s-side window and the driver’s side seat belt had been cut in half,” the article reads. “(Storey County Sheriff Gerald) Antinoro said he couldn’t confirm how that damage occurred.”
Barron joined the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1998, the newspaper said.
“We take this situation very seriously and it is under investigation at this time,” publisher John Maher said in the Gazette-Journal article.
Requests for comment from the newspaper and Tesla were not immediately returned.
This is not the first time journalists have trespassed at the Gigafactory, Tesla said.
“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,” Tesla 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.”
The Gigafactory, which has been under construction outside Reno since 2014, will manufacture Tesla’s lithium ion batteries. It is expected to begin production in 2017.