Reporter John Mattes after he was attacked (Fox 6 News)
An investigative reporter for a Fox television affiliate in southern California is recuperating after suffering cracked ribs, bite wounds and a gouged face in a confrontation caught on camera.
“I was just going to do some interviews and got attacked,” said John Mattes, an attorney and journalist for Fox 6 News in San Diego. “We were doing a series of interviews on a gentleman who’s been threatening people in La Jolla, businessmen, people in the community, his neighbors.”
The person who was the subject of the TV station’s probe is alleged real estate fraudster Sam Suleiman, who is shown on video walking up to Mattes yesterday and immediately unleashing an onslaught of physical fury.
John Mattes on the ground after being assaulted (Fox 6 News)
“We all thought he’d come screaming, but he literally just came flying straight at me and just BOOM!” Mattes told his station in a post-attack interview. “He didn’t even stop, didn’t even slow down. And I’m feeling someone ripping at my face, pulling my hair. We’re not talking about someone going a few rounds, we’re talking about someone ripping, gouging, scratching, and biting me! I just don’t understand … this cannot be going on.”
Also at the scene was Suleiman’s wife, Rosa Baraza, who Mattes says talked about grabbing a firearm.
“I’m fighting not to get hurt,” Mattes said, “but then to hear the screams of his wife, ‘I’m getting the gun,’ knowing the context of this person, I mean it was terrifying.”
Footage shows Suleiman punching Mattes in the face and head, as well putting him in a head lock. The man slated to be interviewed is also shown trying to pull Suleiman off of Mattes as all three fall to the ground and continue to grapple.
The incident was documented by videographer Dennis Waldrop, who was teamed with Mattes for the report. San Diego police finally showed up on the scene, and are shown ordering Suleiman to the ground at gunpoint.
Fox 6 aired footage of Suleiman before the attack admitting in a cell-phone message that he did have problems controlling his anger.
“I do have a bit of anger management – [an] anger problem, and I signed up for this class here last week, so, you know, I’m learning to control it,” the voice message said.
Mattes was hospitalized with cracked ribs, but was later released.
Suleiman and Baraza were both arrested and face a variety of charges. Fox 6 told WND Suleiman is charged with battery, while his wife faces charges of battery, brandishing a weapon (a rock), grand theft and making criminal threats.