Date: Thu, 22 Apr 93 16:14:43 -0600 Photographers for Chronicle, AP arrested Paul McKay, H
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 93 16:14:43 -0600
Photographers for Chronicle, AP arrested
Paul McKay, Houston Chronicle
WACO - Two news photographers were arrested and their film was confiscated by
state troopers Wednesday near the scene of the Branch Davidian cult compound
where they were trying to get a better vantage point.
Kerwin Plevka of the Houston Chronicle and Rick Bowmer of the Associated
Press were arrested by a state trooper and held at gunpoint face-down on
the ground until other officers arrived.
They were charged with "interfering with the duties of a peace officer," a
misdemeanor, and booked into McLennan County Jail.
The two photographers were released hours later under $1,200 bond.
Plevka said that they were trying to get a better spot from which to photo-
graph the burned cult compound and thought they were much farther away.
When they walked out of some woods, they appeared to be a half-mile to a
mile away, Plevka said.
Federal authorities have kept the news media at least two miles away from
the site where more than 85 religious cultists perished in a fire Monday
that the FBI says was set by cult members.
The fire was the conclusion of a 51-day standoff with federal agents after
a bloody gunbattle with cult members, which killed four agents and at least
six residents of the compound.
Both Tony Pederson, managing editor of the Houston Chronicle, and John
Lumpkin, Dallas bureau chief for the Associated Press, protested the arrest
and the confiscation of the photographers' film.
"I have protested to the office of Gov. Ann Richards in the strongest terms
possible the handling of this matter," Pederson said.
"In a situation already marred by tragic loss of life and questionable
actions, this seems to be a rather sorry follow-up. One has to wonder
seriously if the Bill of Rights has been suspended in McLennan County."
A spokesman for Richards, Chuck McDonald, announced the arrests at the
beginning of a news briefing and said the situation could have tragic con-
Lumpkin said he would join Pederson in protesting to the governor's office.
"There was no legitimate law enforcement purpose served by this action,"
"The best and most rational response would have been to escort them from
the unmarked area with a warning," action taken earlier with a television
Plevka, 42, has been a photographer with the Houston Chronicle since 1988.
Bowmer, 37, has been the Associated Press photographer based in Houston
since July, 1992.
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