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Suspect arrested in robbery of reporter covering robberies

A suspect was arrested in California on Tuesday after allegedly robbing a local news reporter at gunpoint while the journalist was working on a story about a string of robberies.

The suspect has been identified as Ronald Whitten, a 34-year-old San Francisco resident. He was booked into San Francisco County Jail on charges of possession of stolen property, KPIX 5 noted.

Don Ford, a veteran reporter for the station, was in Twin Peaks, the popular tourist spot overlooking San Francisco, last week to interview nearby homeowners about several car break-ins.

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Ford was preparing to interview a resident when a white luxury sedan reportedly pulled up beside him with four men inside.

“The car came up here while we were about to do an interview, three guys jumped out,” said Ford. “One had a gun and put in my face and said, ‘We’re taking the camera.' ”

The quick interaction only lasted about a minute, Ford said. 

“My whole thought at the moment was be calm. Let’s not get this guy excited. He’s got the gun. I don’t,” Ford recalled to the station. “So 'you take you the camera. It’s yours buddy.' ”

The unidentified homeowner stood by and watched the entire robbery take place. 

“I just looked and I said, ‘I’m not going to get shot today,' ” he recalled for the outlet. 

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The camera had a location tracker on it. Police were able to recover it about half an hour after it was taken, according to KPIX 5.

The string of crime reportedly stemmed from access roads to the hilltop vista with views of the Bay Area being closed, creating opportunities for drivers to be targeted as they turned around. 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) voted last week to reopen at least one access road at the Portola Avenue gate.

“We are saddened to hear about what happened to reporter, Don Ford, while covering the story today,” SFMTA said in a statement. “In an attempt to address these concerns, the south end gate at Portola Drive was opened in September daily between 6:00 p.m. and midnight to provide local access to the top of the peaks for people driving. However, some unresolved issues remain, so the SFMTA worked with the community and other city departments including Rec and Park, SFPD and Public Works on new ideas to ensure access and balance needs at Twin Peaks.”