Interrupting and interfering with news media members trying to do their job sometimes goes quite badly. We saw that in 2019 when Thomas Callaway was arrested for sexual battery after slapping reporter Alex Borzarjian on the butt as he ran by during an event (he pled guilty last year and was sentenced to a fine, probation, and community service), and we saw it earlier this year when the guy who mooned a live shot in New Jersey got some camera scrutiny (he doesn’t appear to have been identified, though). The latest case of this came during MSNBC’s Hurricane Ida coverage Monday.
During that coverage Monday morning, a man ran up to MSNBC reporter Shaquille Brewster and his camera crew during a live shot from the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi. The man started heckling Brewster, then bumped Brewster and appeared to try to initiate more physical contact with him. That man was since identified as Benjamin Eugene Dagley, 54, of Wooster, Ohio, and he was arrested Thursday in Dayton, Ohio by the U.S. Marshals’ violent fugitive task force. Dagley has been charged with two counts of simple assault, one count of disturbing the peace and one count of violating an emergency curfew. Here’s how this played out on MSNBC:
That clip shows Dagley running towards Brewster, saying “You’re reporting this accurately, right?,” then screaming “Report accurately!” and bumping Brewster (who had tried to shift to the ocean backdrop and keep reporting despite Dagley’s interference). There may have been further contact after Brewster threw it back to studio anchor Craig Melvin; the last part of the interaction wasn’t shown on MSNBC. Brewster did post to Instagram Tuesday that he and his crew were fine, even with that being “the wildest moment I’ve had on air,” and that they resumed on-air hits in the next hour:
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Dagley was identified after the Gulfport police called for assistance figuring out who he was:
Thank you to the help of the community, the individual has been identified. https://t.co/pEbiqGR4vr
— Gulfport Police Dept (@GulfportPolice) August 30, 2021
That led to Dagley being arrested by U.S. marshals Thursday. And this is not Dagley’s first run-in with the law. Courtney Astolfi of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in 2017 about Dagley being arrested for a break-in into an electroplating company he once owned that saw him drill holes in tanks of sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and more, causing a chemical leak that sent one employee to hospital:
Employees called police around 8 p.m. Aug. 22 after a security guard discovered gas escaping in one of the facility’s chemical rooms.
Surveillance footage later revealed Dagley drilled into tanks of sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, yellow chromate, ferrous chloride, and sulfuric acid, according to a current owner, Ed Cochran.
“If you mix the (cyanide and hydrochloric acid), you basically have the cyanide gas of World War I,” Cochran said. “It certainly would produce a toxic vapor that could kill.”
Employees told police that the released chemicals “are severe enough to cause a large scale catastrophe, and Dagley knew what he was doing,” the report says.
Potential cyanide poisoning is the reason why the 27-year-old security guard who found the leaks was taken to University Hospitals, according to Cochran and the report.
Dagley pled guilty to attempted felonious assault, inducing panic, and vandalism around that incident in 2018, and was sentenced to five years of probation, including a prohibition on leaving the state without permission (which also led to another arrest warrant for him here). It’s unclear what he was doing in Mississippi, and what led him to harass Webster and the MSNBC crew. But it seems likely to lead to some further consequences for him.