On Tuesday, Daily Press photographer David Pardo was attacked and severely beaten while on assignment at Hesperia Lake Park taking pictures for — of all innocuous things — this newspaper’s upcoming summer guide.
Now, my intent here is not to make light of a dangerous and heinous situation, but while digging through our archives Thursday for my latest “This Desert Life” column, I stumbled upon a story too eerily similar not to share.
As it turns out, Pardo is not the first Daily Press photographer to be attacked while doing his job.
Nearly 47 years ago, former photographer Robert Wulff was called to the scene of an accident where he met members of the infamous Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang.
The account of the attack that followed, as told by Wulff, ran in our July 7, 1969, edition and is reprinted here.
“My first encounter with the Hell’s Angels almost cost the Daily Press a smashed camera and me a fractured jaw.
When I was called to the scene of an accident on Central and Bear Valley roads in Apple Valley (on) Saturday about 6 p.m. to take pictures of the accident for the Daily Press, I did not know I was in for more than I had bargained for.
An ambulance was at the scene and so were two units from (California) Highway Patrol, but the strange part, however, was a swarm of black-uniformed, bearded men and long-haired girls buzzing about, their motorcycles parked along the curbs.
At the center of the black heap of bodies on the middle of Central Road were two men in white uniforms engaged in applying aid to two injured persons on the ground.
I had put a bulb into the flash unit of my camera and was just getting ready to shoot when suddenly somebody got hold of the camera with both hands and tore it away from me.
I did not let go my hold on the camera. My adversary, a man in black leather, yelled he was going to smash the camera because I had not received his permission to take pictures of the group.
When I did not let go my hold, the bearded leader yelled for help and two others got a hold on me and dragged me in the opposite direction while the first one kept on pulling at the camera.
‘Let go of that camera you damn ..., or I’ll ... you ...,’ the leader yelled using language which, for the most part, is unprintable.
A fourth gang member came to their assistance and was swinging his fist in front of my nose when a Highway Patrolman interfered and broke up what was fun to the gang but not to me.
I had to prove to the gang that I was an official press photographer by showing my credentials.
‘You saw his press card, now you leave him alone,’ an officer said.
As if we were the best of friends, the leader of the group turned to me with a big smile and said with a friendly voice, ‘Some of the girls are underage; you don’t know what their parents would say if they should see the picture.’
I went right on taking pictures. While some of the gang members fled from the scene in order not to be in the pictures, others kept on standing in the way of the camera, making picture taking almost impossible.
When neither friendly requests nor threats of bodily harm had any avail on me, they started throwing stones to keep me a distance from the scene.
Most of the gang took off with the ambulance and followed it to the hospital. I left before the Highway Patrol. I did not care to be let alone with any of the gang, which reminded me so much of another black-uniformed gang roaming the streets many, many years ago, the Nazi SS in Europe.”
Daily Press Editor Steve Hunt announced Thursday he is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man who attacked David.
If you have information about the man who assaulted David, call the Daily Press at 760-951-6270, the Hesperia Sheriff's Station at 760-947-1500, the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-782-7463 or go online to www.wetip.com.
Matthew Cabe can be reached at MCabe@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6254. Follow him on Twitter @DP_MatthewCabe.