News Crew Nearly Robbed at Gun Point Interviewing City's Violence Prevention Chief

A news crew in Oakland, California, were nearly robbed at gunpoint while interviewing the head of the Department of Violence Prevention in front of City Hall, KTVU reported.

The news crew was conducting an interview on June 28 when two men approached with guns drawn, demanding the film camera.

According to KTVU, a press release from the Oakland police stated that the robbery was stopped by the news crew's contracted, armed security guard who remained unnamed. The two suspects ran eastbound without the camera.

"This is a brazen attempted armed robbery that took place in the afternoon in our busy downtown. We encourage our community to provide any information that would lead to the identification and arrest of those responsible for this crime," OPD Robbery Investigator Ortiz said, per KRON4.

The police released surveillance camera footage of the incident on Wednesday in an attempt to ask the public for help with identifying the suspected robbers.

Both suspects are described as African American males, in their late teens to early 20s, both standing around six feet tall. One suspect wore a red Nike sweatshirt, the other in all black clothing. Both used black handguns in the attempted robbery.

The irony of the attempted crime while interviewing the chief of Violence Prevention, Guillermo Cespedes, does not go unnoticed; crime rates in Oakland have been "out of control," said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong last week in a press conference.

"We find ourselves in a crisis," he said. "We find ourselves reeling from a weekend of violence, where we've seen four homicides over a three-day period. It now has us currently at 65 homicides for the year—a 90 percent increase compared to last year."

Oakland City Council recently approved a budget cut that agreed to take $17.4 million from the police department and reallocate the money elsewhere.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in an official statement that "Unfortunately, [the budget] also cuts 50 police officers who respond to Oaklanders' 911 calls and enforce traffic safety. It also cuts much-needed future academies, which will significantly reduce police staffing and delay response to Oaklanders in their time of crisis."

City Council President Nikki Bas told Newsweek in an earlier statement that the new budget aims to distribute money from the police department to other areas of and response systems, which Bas believes will be more effective for the city.

"Oakland can lead the nation by transitioning low-level, nonviolent 911 calls to other departments, including the Fire Department's new mobile crisis response program for mental health emergencies and the Transportation Department for minor traffic enforcement like blocked driveways, auto tows, improper parking and abandoned autos," Bas said. "This will allow police to focus on responding to and investigating serious and violent crime."

Newsweek reached out to Oakland police and Chief Cespedes for comments but did not hear back in time for publication.

Protesters In Oakland Gather In Solidarity With
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 25: Protesters hold signs in support of defunding the police on July 25, 2020 in Oakland, California. Demonstrators in Oakland gathered to protest in solidarity with Portland protests. A news crew was almost robbed at gunpoint last week while interviewing the chief of violence prevention in Oakland. Natasha Moustache/Getty Images