A Grayslake woman was charged with one count of battery after allegedly pushing a freelance photographer from the Lake and McHenry County Scanner to the ground and punching him while he was covering a fire in Volo.
Lake County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chris Covelli told the Northwest Herald that Emilia B. Demers, 22, of the 300 block of Alta Street in Grayslake, was cited and released on a $1,500 recognizance bond.
Demers is scheduled to appear in Lake County courtroom C-401 on Sept. 10, according to the Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
The sheriff's office and Fox Lake Fire Protection District were dispatched at 7:08 p.m. Wednesday to the 100 block of Terra Vista Court in Volo in response to reports of a home on fire.
Covelli said a group of fire dancers were rehearsing a move involving the transfer of a flaming hula hoop between performers in the garage of a townhome, where one of the performers lives.
The fire "completely destroyed the townhouse where it occurred and caused some significant damage to the two adjoining townhomes as well," Covelli said.
One of the fire performers, a 52-year-old woman, was taken to Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital to have burn injuries that were not life-threatening treated.
Covelli said the freelance photographer, whose name is Woo-Sung Shim, according to the Lake and McHenry County Scanner, was capturing scenes of the fire in an area where he was legally allowed to be standing when he was shoved to the ground by Demers.
"The [sheriff's] deputies were in the vicinity and immediately able to rush over and stop the attack," he said.
Shim refused medical treatment at the scene and was not injured, Covelli said.
The Lake and McHenry County Scanner reported Wednesday that Shim was approached by several bystanders after the fire was extinguished.
In the audio of a video taken by Shim, the Lake and McHenry County Scanner reported, a woman can be heard screaming “Go [expletive] yourself. Stop recording! Go [expletive] yourself. I hope your house burns down."
“I’ll kill you! [Expletive] kill him!” the woman yelled, according to the Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
Shim told the Lake and McHenry County Scanner that he tried to ignore the woman and continue doing his job, but she walked away and returned a short time later.
“I assumed [Demers] was going to ask me to stop recording the scene," Shim said to the Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
Demers instead pushed, punched and hit Shim, even after he went to the ground.
"Obviously, tensions were high at the scene, especially with Ms. Demers being at the fire when it occurred," Covelli said. "However, journalists have a First Amendment right to capture images or video from an active scene when they are on public property."