Suspect pleads not guilty to robbing, assaulting Bay Area TV news crews

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A 23-year-old San Francisco man suspected of robbing and assaulting two Bay Area television news crews covering a homicide at Pier 14 last month has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody.

Michael Anthony Jones was arrested on July 27 and booked into jail on suspicion of robbing and assaulting the Bay Area news crews with the help of two accomplices.

Jones was charged with two counts of robbery, as well as assault, evading, resisting arrest by threat or force, grand theft, and misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, according to San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian.

Jones pleaded not guilty on July 30 and remains in jail with bail set at $250,000, San Francisco Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kenya Briggs said today.

On July 2, a group of broadcast news reporters were robbed at gunpoint of their camera equipment as they were covering the shooting death of San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle.

At about 6 a.m., news crews had gathered on The Embarcadero, in front of Pier 14, when the suspects approached them. The suspects demanded camera equipment from NBC Bay Area and KTVU Fox-2, according to San Francisco police.

Police said there were two armed suspects and a third suspect who acted as a getaway driver.

Part of the attack was caught on camera by one of the crews preparing for a live broadcast.

One cameraman was struck in the head with a pistol and suffered a laceration to the head. The three other victims were not injured, San Francisco police Officer Grace Gatpandan said. The suspects made off with camera equipment valued at over $100,000, according to Gatpandan.

The three suspects fled in a black BMW 7 Series sedan, Gatpandan said. Investigators were able to locate the BMW used in the Pier 14 robbery and on July 27, San Francisco police investigators, with the assistance of the Oakland and Fremont Police Departments, identified Jones as a suspect and located him with the BMW at a Motel 6 in Fremont, police said.

Following a brief foot pursuit, Jones was arrested as he was leaving a room at the motel, police said.

Jones, who is believed by police to have an affiliation with a San Francisco street gang, was also on felony probation in San Francisco for a prior firearm offense, police said.

“We’ve known for a long time that many criminals move back and forth across the Bay,” said Police Chief Greg Suhr. “This investigation represents just one example of the spirit of cooperation between Bay Area law enforcement.”

The investigation into the robbery is ongoing and police are still looking for additional suspects. Jones’ next court date is a status update on August 17 at the San Francisco Hall of Justice, according to the district attorney’s office.

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