Zach Wheeler is a former news anchor at New York NBC affiliate WETM TV who is on leave after he was caught in a “predator hunter” sting YouTube video. The “607 Predator Hunters” posted the video on April 30, 2022, accusing Wheeler of driving three hours to meet someone he thought was a 15-year-old boy. The YouTube channel says it is, “Here to protect our community from predators trying to meet children!”
Wheeler, who was also the news director at WETM, could not be reached for comment by Heavy. “Friday evening, WETM was made aware of a video posted to YouTube regarding one of our employees. The local group that posted the video claimed that the employee engaged in inappropriate behavior,” the news station said in a May 2 Facebook post. “WETM management investigated the questions raised by the video, and the employee is no longer employed by WETM.”
A previous post from WETM said, “WETM has been made aware of a video posted to YouTube regarding one of our employees. The local group that posted the video claims that the employee engaged in inappropriate behavior. WETM management is looking into the questions raised by the video, and the employee will remain off the air until the situation is resolved. No charges have been filed in connection with the video.”
Here’s what you need to know about Zach Wheeler:
1. Wheeler Was Confronted by the ‘607 Predator Hunters’ at a Dick’s Sporting Goods Store … He Claims in the Video He Is a ‘Christian Man’ & Wasn’t Trying to Meet a Boy
The video posted by the 607 Predator Hunters shows the vigilante group confronting Zach Wheeler at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store. The video starts with one member of the group filming Wheeler as he follows him through the store. Wheeler can be heard telling him, “Here’s the thing, I was not looking to meet him.” The man filming then tells Wheeler, “that’s not what the chat logs say.”
Wheeler tells the group following him, “Listen, I’m a Christian man.” Outside of the store, Wheeler tells them, “I’m not here to make a scene. I’m not here to have sex with a kid.” Wheeler added that the app he used to talk to the group is for people over 18. He said he thought “the kid was over 18.”
Wheeler added, “I’m not here to have any kind of sexual relations with a young person. I was here to talk to this kid to get him off of these apps. Listen, I’m not having sex with anybody.” He said, “I’m not a pedophile.” He also asked why they “do this” to gay and lesbian people, and the vigilante group members respond they do it to “everybody.”
The group also confornted him with chat logs from the conversations he had with them on an app. One of the members of the group read from the chat where the person posing as a 15-year-old boy told Wheeler he was almost 16. They said they talked to him about high school.
Wheeler added, “I am extremly innocent. … He also said he is the “most celibate” person. “I was going to come and tell that kid, bring him to his house and I was going to go home and go to work,” Wheeler said. He then denies planning to “cuddle” and “watch movies” with the person he thought was 15. “I was trying to be nice to the kid,” Wheeler added.
The person posing as the boy had made up a story that he lived with his uncle because his mother and father both died, according to the video. He said only wanted to tell the boy to stop going on Grindr and Growlr to meet older men.
2. Wheeler Said in the Video the ‘607 Predator Hunters’ Are Engaging in ‘Cancel Culture’ & Asked if They Needed Money or Wanted Publicity
At one point in the video, Wheeler also said he was “planning on working on a story on this.” He asks them, “Are you here to ruin people’s lives?” Wheeler tells them, “I’m a kind, Christian person who cares about people and now you’re going to ruin my entire life. I’m going to lose my job and everything.”
Wheeler also told the vigilante group that he actually knew that it was a group trying to catch pedophiles and he decided to come to the store because it would be a good news story. He asks them at one point, “Do you need money? … Honestly, I will help you guys find more predators if you want. I know you think I’m some kind of sick predator, but I’m not.” He said he would help “broadcast” their message and do a story on them.
Wheeler added, “There wasn’t going to be sexual events at his house. … I know it looks extremely horrible. And this is what’s happening in the culture. Cancel culture. This is what’s happening.”
3. Zach Wheeler Had Been WETM’s News Director Since February 2022 & Had Been the Main Anchor of 18 News Since 2018
Wheeler’s Facebook accounts have been deleted or set to private. His profile on the news station’s website was removed after the video was posted online. A cached version can be found here.
“Zach Wheeler was named the News Director of WETM in February of 2022 and is the main anchor for WETM 18 News at 6. Zach Wheeler was promoted from anchor of 18 News Today to the main anchor of 18 News, in September of 2018,” the news station’s website said in his bio.
On Instagram, Wheeler wrote in his profile, “Award-winning broadcast journalist, news director at @wetm18news. Philly born, @templeuniv made. Plants, rocks, YLEO enthusiast. Soli Deo gloria!”
4. Wheeler, a Philadelphia Native, Graduated From Temple University & Previously Worked as a News Anchor & Reporter in West Virginia
Wheeler’s biography on the WETM website added, “Zach, who has been in the Twin Tiers for some time now, started his broadcasting career at WOAY-TV (ABC) in Southern West Virginia. He anchored, reported and hosted a weekly talk show at the station.”
Wheeler, a Philadelphia native, “is a graduate of Temple University School of Journalism. In 2004, he was honored with the University’s distinguished broadcasting achievement award for his reporting and on-air work,” according to the now-deleted profile on the WETM website.
On Twitter, Wheeler says in his profile, “News Director/Anchor @WETM18News
; Opinions are my own, retweets are not endorsements #TempleMade #SoliDeoGloria.” He has made his Twitter account private.
5. Wheeler Has Not Been Arrested, but the ‘607 Predator Hunters’ Said All Information They Collected Has Been Turned Over to the New York State Police
Zach Wheeler has not been arrested and it was not immediately clear if a police investigation is ongoing into the incident.
On Facebook, the 607 Predator Hunters wrote on May 2, “A quick update regarding the recent case. Information has been turned over to the State Police!! Will continue to update as things unfold. Thank you again to everyone for helping and spreading the word!!!”
The group added on Twitter, “Thank you all for your support! @WETM18News has taken action and our group will continue to expose the pedophiles who are trying to harm our children. Keep supporting! We appreciate it and you have no idea how much exposure helps our mission!”
The New York State Police have not yet commented about whether they are looking into the video and the materials turned over to them by the vigilante group. Heavy will update this report if charges are filed.