Benjamin Eugene Dagley is an Ohio man accused of confronting MSNBC reporter Shaquille Brewster in Mississippi while he was on air talking about Hurricane Ida, Gulfport Police say. He was arrested on multiple charges in his home state of Ohio. He was identified after police asked for tips from the public. Video of the August 30, 2021, incident went viral on social media. Brewster was not injured.
An arrest warrant charging the 54-year-old Dagley with two counts of simple assault, one count of disturbance of the peace and one count of violation of emergency curfew was issued on August 31, 2021, Gulfport Police said in a press release. According to police, Gulfport authorities contacted the Cuyahoga County Adult Probation Department after reviewing Dagley’s criminal history and determining there could be a possible probation violation in Ohio. “One of the conditions of Dagley’s probation included restrictions on travel,” police said. Dagley lives in Wooster, Ohio.
“Further investigation revealed that Dagley has left the area and is no longer on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” the press release said. “The Gulfport Police Department would like to thank the public for coming forward and helping identify Dagley.”
Dagley was taken into custody on September 2, authorities said.
Here’s what you need to know about Benjamin Dagley:
1. Ben Dagley Could Be Heard Saying ‘Report Accurately, Report Accurately,’ While Running Up to Brewster & Getting Into His Face
Gulfport Police said Ben Dagley confronted MSNBC correspondent Shaquille Brewster on Highway 90 on August 30, 2021, about 12:38 p.m. during a city-wide curfew. Police put out a request for help from the public to identify the man seen in the MSNBC video during the incident and learned his name in only a few hours.
The MSNBC video shows Brewster reporting near the water about Hurricane Ida when a white truck quickly pulls up behind him. A man can be seen getting out of the driver’s seat of the truck and running toward Brewster as he was talking to MSNBC’s Craig Melvin live on air. Brewster turns to see the man yelling at him and says to Melvin, “I think we even have a random person going around.” As the man yells, “report accurately, report accurately,” Brewster then moves away from the man and tells his cameraperson to turn away and says, “I’m going to turn this way because, you know, we deal with people every once and awhile.”
Brewster then continues with his report until the man’s yelling can be picked up by his microphones. Brewster tells Melvin, “Craig I’m going to toss it back to you because we have a person who needs a little help right now.” The man then gets into Brewster’s face, again screaming, “report accurately, report accurately.” Melvin then says, “Hey, hey, hey, hey,” as the TV network cuts back to him. “There’s a lot of crazy out there,” Melvin said. Melvin later returned to the air and called the man a “wacky guy,” and said, “Shaq, he’s OK.”
After the incident, Shaq Brewster tweeted, “Appreciate the concern guys. The team and I are all good!” Brewster has been a correspondent at MSNBC and NBC News for more than seven years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He began his career at NBC News as a Tim Russert Fellow from 2014 to 2015 and was a campaign embed reporter in 2016, a producer in the Chicago area from 2016 to 2019 and a political reporter from 2019 to 2020 before becoming a roving correspondent.
Brewster previously worked at Hearst Television, The Associated Press and WHUT and graduated from Howard University with broadcast journalism and political science degrees in 2014. The 28-year-old Brewster grew up in Connecticut. On Instagram, Brewster wrote, “Overwhelmed by the love and support today after what was definitely the wildest moment I’ve had on air. Our team joked about it afterwards, but it was without a doubt as scary for us as it was for you all watching. While that one report was interrupted, we were right back up in the next hour and will continue reporting here as we do.
2. Dagley Pleaded Guilty to Vandalism, Inducing Panic & Attempted Assault After Drilling Holes Into Tanks of Dangerous Chemicals at a Company He Previously Owned, Sending an Employee to the Hospital
Ben Dagley was arrested in August 2017 in Ohio in an incident at a company he once owned, Cleveland Plating, according to Cleveland.com. Dagley, then 50, was accused of breaking into the electroplating company and drilling holes into tanks containing dangerous chemicals. One employee was hospitalized for exposure to toxic chemicals, police said at the time, adding that the incident could have caused an “environmental disaster.”
The newspaper reported the tanks contained sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, yellow chromate, ferrous chloride and sulfuric acid. The owner of the company at the time, Ed Cochran, told Cleveland.com, “If you mix the (cyanide and hydrochloric acid), you basically have the cyanide gas of World War I. It certainly would produce a toxic vapor that could kill.”
Cochran told the newspaper, “Thank god we have security guards there 24/7. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been discovered until (the next morning), and it would’ve been late.” He said a security guard was hospitalized after she was for exposure to the chemicals but she was released from the hospital shortly after. According to Cleveland.com, Dagley, who still owned the property where the business was located, was involved in a financial dispute over the property, his mortgage and the Cleveland Plating lease.
Cochran told the newspaper, “He wants us to settle and we won’t pay, that’s why I think he’s done all this.” Dagley had previously been charged with misdemeanor assault after he was accused of slamming a door on a security guard and punching him in the mouth in June 2017.
According to Cuyahoga County Court records, Dagley was initially indicted on charges of criminal use of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapon or explosive device, attempted felonious assault, felonious assault, two counts of inducing panic, breaking and entering, two counts of vandalism and extortion. He pleaded guilty to charges of attempted felonious assault, including panic and vandalism and the other charges were dropped, records show.
3. Dagley Has Other Previous Arrests on His Criminal Record, Including Several Traffic Violations
Dagley’s criminal record in Ohio includes other arrests and traffic violations, according to court records in multiple counties in the state. Gulfport Police said Dagley is on probation in Cuyahoga County, but did not specify how long he is on probation for. Officials in Cuyahoga County could not immediately be reached for comment.
Dagley’s previous charges include speeding, driving without a seat belt, driving with an expired registration, driving under a 12-point suspension, improper backing. He was also charged with a wildlife violation.
After his conviction in the 2017 case, Dagley was ordered to complete an anger management program, according to Cuyahoga County court records. Along with the warrant for his arrest in Mississippi, Dagley also now has an active warrant in Ohio accusing him of a probation violation, court records show. The warrant was issued at the request of his probation officer and Judge Michael J. Russo said Dagley left the state of Ohio without permission.
4. MSNBC Said Brewster ‘Did Not Let Someone Intimidate Him From Doing His Job’
MSNBC President Rashida Jones said in a statement, “Shaq Brewster is an exceptional journalist. Like the consummate professional, he did not let someone intimidate him from doing his job. We’re glad he and the team are safe, and we couldn’t be more proud and supportive of their work.” Jones said Brewster showed the actions of a “consummate professional” and praised him for how he handled the situation.
Brewster received support from fellow journalists on Twitter after the incident. Craig Melvin, who was on air talking to Brewster when the incident occurred, tweeted, “This is beyond unacceptable and disgusting. @shaqbrewster was trying to do his job on a beach in Gulfport, MS. Shaq is ok. This guy who nearly attacked him clearly is not.”
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel tweeted, “The GOAT @shaqbrewster – he gets interrupted *twice* by a man-baby having a tantrum and keeps going.” CBS News’ Skyler Henry tweeted, “JUST LET PEOPLE DO THEIR JOBS. Happy you’re good @shaqbrewster.”
The National Association of Black Journalists tweeted, “#NABJ is disturbed by the treatment of our very own @shaqbrewster in this video. Journalists must be protected from this type of harassment while on the job. We encourage local officials to look into the matter. We’re here for you Shaq-glad you’re safe. Reach out if we can assist.” NABJ President Dorothy Tucker added, “I’m in touch with @shaqbrewster and he tells me he’s doing well. The safety of our @NABJ members is imperative. We are glad to see company leadership @RJonesNews is now involved.”
5. Dagley Was Arrested in Dayton, Ohio, by the U.S. Marshals Service
The Gulfport Police did not say if they had learned why Dagley had traveled to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast during the leadup to Hurricane Ida’s landfall or why he was in the region. Dagley could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it was not immediately clear if he has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
Dagley was arrested on September 2, 2021, in Dayton, Ohio, by the U.S. Marshals Service, according to a press release. “This afternoon, members of the US Marshals violent fugitive task force arrested Dagley in a shopping plaza on Greene Boulevard in Dayton, Ohio. Task force members received information that Dagley was still driving in his white truck bearing an Ohio license plate. Task force members located the truck in the parking lot and subsequently arrested him after watching him exit a store in the shopping plaza,” the U>S. Marshals Service said.
“Due to assistance provided by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, our task force members were able to track this fugitive from Mississippi to his arrest location in Dayton,” Northern District of Ohio U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said in a statement. “This violent fugitive was attempting to flee from his charges in Gulfport but the swift work of our task force members resulted in a timely arrest.”
Police said, “Benjamin Dagley is believed to be traveling in a white 2016 Ford F150 bearing Ohio License Plate PJR1745. If you know of Dagley’s whereabouts, please contact your local law enforcement agency.”
Dagley is an Ohio native and is divorced, according to court records. He has been involved in multiple lawsuits involving his former company, records show. Dagley’s mother, Gerri Diamond was a blues singer known for performing in the Dayton, Ohio, area and in Florida, where she lived until her death in 2014, according to her obituary.