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Tesla Accuses Journalists Of Attacking Workers At Gigafactory

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Alexander C. Kaufman
ATHENA IMAGE © The Washington Post via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

Two Nevada journalists struck and injured a Tesla employee with a Jeep, the company said Tuesday.

The electric car manufacturer said reporters from the Reno Gazette-Journal broke into a construction site of the company's battery-building Gigafactory on Friday and attacked workers with the vehicle.

Andy Barron was arrested and charged with battery with a deadly weapon, Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro told the newspaper.

"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 said in a blog post Tuesday. "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." 

Kelly Ann Scott, the executive editor of the newspaper, did not immediately respond to a call and email requesting comment. But publisher John Maher said the paper is investigating the incident and taking it "very seriously."

Tesla said two trespassers with Reno Gazette-Journal credentials dangling from their pockets attempted to escape after workers at the factory site questioned them. 

Here's how Tesla described what happened next:

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. 

The Jeep, which belonged to the newspaper, was damaged during the incident. The driver's side window was shattered with a rock and the driver's side seat belt had been cut in half, the paper reported. 

Like much else related to Tesla and its enigmatic chief executive, the $5 billion lithium-ion battery facility has fascinated the media. The Gigafactory, which is under construction, is expected to begin manufacturing batteries in 2017 and to hit peak capacity by 2020. 

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