Man accused of threatening Fox journalist covering O.C. stay-at-home protest

Huntington Beach
Demonstrators rally last week in Huntington Beach.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

An Orange County man has been arrested on suspicion of threatening a KTTV Channel 11 cameraman with a knife hours after a quarantine protest Friday in Huntington Beach.

Christien Petersen, 36, of Costa Mesa was taken into custody at 7:49 p.m. Friday for exhibiting a “deadly weapon other than [a] firearm” and for kidnapping, the Huntington Beach Police Department’s log stated.

Petersen, who is believed to be a lawyer, is being held on $100,000 bond and is expected to be in court Tuesday.

Police said Petersen was allegedly intoxicated and upset when he was filmed by a Fox cameraman for a report in the aftermath of that day’s “Live Free or Die” protest, which focused on ending COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

According to Angela Bennett, a Huntington Beach Police public information officer, Petersen asked the camera operator not to film him. Petersen then pulled out a small pocketknife and threatened the cameraman when he refused, police said.

A Fox reporter on assignment with the cameraman called police, who arrested Petersen.

Police did not explain the kidnapping charge, even though the cameraman wasn’t physically removed from the premises.

“I don’t know about the kidnapping charges,” Bennett said, adding that the investigation was continuing.

Fox spokeswoman Erica Keane said the reporter and cameraman were “pretty shaken up, but they are thankfully OK.”

They are also expected to take “a couple of days off,” Keane said.

Fox did not air a television report that evening because all raw footage was immediately turned over to Huntington Beach police. The station has not identified the reporter or cameraman, but is expected air further details during a regular broadcast.


Friday evening’s incident took place on Main Street and Walnut Avenue, where more than 100 people congregated around 1 p.m. for a roughly two-hour protest against California’s stay-at-home order, which is aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Bennett said no arrests were made during the protest.


4:43 p.m. April 20, 2020: Fox spokeswoman’s name was added.