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Seattle reporter attacked during Pioneer Square interview

It’s one thing to report on how dangerous Seattle’s Pioneer Square has become for first responders. It’s another to be attacked while producing the story.

That’s what happened to KIRO 7’s Gary Horcher. He was conducting interviews along Second Avenue, a block away from the Seattle Rescue Mission. The TV reporter was chatting with people getting services about why the Seattle Fire Department has implemented a new policy.

RELATED: Seattle Fire Department’s new policy

“When they are trying to treat one patient, it could be a turned ankle or an overdose … on a 911 call, (firefighters) have to deal with vast groups of people, sometimes 30-40 people,”Horcher told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don. “And sometimes those crowds can turn on these EMTs and the firefighters — and they did once, on May 18.”

“I talked  with witnesses who told me that an EMT was assaulted on that block just outside the Gospel Mission while they were trying to get to a patient,” he said. “The EMT was punched in the face. That’s one of the things that sparked this new protocol.”

That assault came about a month before Horcher went down to Pioneer Square to talk to people on the street — when something similar happened to him on June 27.

“We were doing some interviews with quite a few homeless people who are getting services around that area about their opinions about Seattle firefighters and paramedics no longer feeling safe just sending an aid car with two or four people, now they are going have six or eight for having safety in numbers,” Horcher said.

Pioneer Square attack

Horcher explains that the KIRO 7 photographer was simply filming images of Pioneer Square, the lines along the street, and other activity. They were also filming interviews.

“There was one individual who took great umbrage in having their picture taken … because that person was taking apart bike that didn’t belong to them,” he said.

The individual was a woman who began screaming at them shortly after the video was taken. She then revealed a weapon and tried to use it on the photographer while they were interviewing a man.

“It turns out its something my photographer calls a garrote,” Horcher said. “It’s two sticks with a braided cord around it. It’s like something you would see in ‘The Godfather.’ They tried to put it over the photographer’s head to choke him out.”

“The interview subject … a really nice guy, he saw what was happening in our blind spot,” he said. “You can see in the video his eyes get real big and he turns around and pushed her away and tells her to back off. She attacks him for a moment and then she backs off of him.”

The man being interviewed was telling Horcher how he feels everybody should feel unsafe in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. That’s when his “eyes got real big.” He sprung into action.

“Back off there! Back off there!” he yelled at the woman. “It’s people like you that make us look bad. Get away from me!”

The woman disappeared into the downtown Seattle crowd and didn’t come back. Horcher continued his interview and asked the man if the fire department should send more firefighters to Pioneer Square calls, for protection.

“Why not?” the man said. “If we’re going to be in groups, they should be.”

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