In a Moment, KTVT Dallas' Work Shifts From Peaceful to Perilous

About to wrap up coverage of what was a peaceful protest, KTVT Dallas reporters were jolted into intense, and at times dangerous, wall-to-wall coverage Thursday night when snipers shot and killed five police officers.

“On several instances, reporters were told to get back and get down,” said Gary Schneider, the CBS O&O’s president and general manager. “It was a pretty harrowing experience but we got solid coverage.”

A small crew of reporters, as well as the station’s chopper, were streaming coverage of the demonstration condemning two police killings of African-American men this week when the shooting began around 9 p.m., Schneider said.

The newsroom immediately changed gears, dispatching additional reporters and launching wall-to-wall coverage.

Schneider said having reporters on-site before the event turned violent was invaluable to getting interviews and footage that would have otherwise been missed. The station interviewed the brother of an initial suspect in the shooting, who was later released.

There were safety concerns, too, in the aftermath of the shootings, as the possibility of other violent attacks came in.

“They were told they could be in the line of fire,” Schneider said.

At one point, a journalist filed a report while down, almost on his stomach, Schneider said. Another was close enough to the site where a bomb went off early Friday morning, killing one of the suspected snipers, that viewers could hear it.

KTVT also worked with CBS News, providing reports for the network as well as other CBS stations.

The station continued its local live coverage non-stop until 8 a.m., when it turned its airwaves over to CBS News’ Scott Pelley, who had started reporting from Dallas by that time.

Schneider said coverage moving forward will depend on how events unfold and what they warrant.

“There are still a lot of questions to be answered,” he said.