An Upper Darby business owner has been charged relating to an incident where the suspect is accused of assaulting a local television news reporter and cameraman. Chris O’Connell, of Fox 29, posted on his Facebook page Tuesday night, that the business owner of Modern Auto Crafters of 7000 block of West Chester Pike, became enraged with the news team, for supposedly being on his property. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said that the news team was doing a story on potholes and damage caused to vehicles when Peter Kathopoulis confronted them.
According to O’Connell’s Facebook post, Kathopoulis “tried ripping the camera” out of photographer Dave Eizen’s hand. He also allegedly hurled threats and threw slurs. According to O’Connell when he was on the phone to 911, Kathopoulis walked over and then spit at O’Connell, which was caught on video and posted on Facebook, the reporter wrote. “We are pressing charges to send a message,” O’Connell wrote.
The news team was reporting on damages to vehicles from potholes around the area and had interviewed a woman on damage her car received from a pothole. The crew had the permission of the woman to take photos of her car which was getting the work done at Modern Auto Crafters. When the crew arrived at the body shop, Kathopoulis old the crew to leave the premises immediately. The news crew didn’t even get out of their vehicle and pulled their vehicle into the lot of an attached business who did give them permission to use the lot. Kathopoulis followed where he proceeded to grab some nearby tree branches and vines and raked them across O’Connell’s head and face. Kathapoulis then unsuccessfully tried to grab the television camera from Eitzen’s arms. The crew immediately called for some passersby to help and dialed 911. Kathapoulis is then seen on camera spitting in the face of O’Connell as he was talking to 911 dispatchers about the incident. The incident was videotaped which is now going to be used as evidence against the business owner.
Kathopoulis is charged with simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. His bail was set at $30,000 unsecured. A preliminary hearing is scheduled March 14 in Magisterial District Judge Harry J. Karapalides court.