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WBTV photographer assaulted while working

By Mark Washburn
mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

A veteran photographer for WBTV (Channel 3) was punched from behind while covering the search for a missing teacher on Druid Circle.

Devin Futrelle, who joined Channel 3 in 2003, was working with reporter Pamela Escobar on a report Monday about Bianca Tanner, who moved to Druid Circle three weeks ago from Greensboro and was trying to find a job in Charlotte when she vanished.

Futrelle was raising the transmission mast on a WBTV van and talking on his phone to the station when a group of about a half-dozen teenagers came up from behind. One punched him in the neck.

“It was just, pow, and I thought, what was that?” said Futrelle, 32, who turned to see the teenagers running away. Paramedics took him to Mercy Hospital, where he was treated for a possible concussion. Futrelle said he had blurry vision for a time and his neck was still sore days later.

It was the first time he’d ever been attacked on assignment, Futrelle said.

“It was probably a couple kids playing the knockout game,” in which strangers are randomly attacked, said Dennis Milligan, WBTV’s news director.

“It’s a little disheartening when these things happen because it’s stupid, and someone could have gotten hurt.”

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