Fact Check

Did Police Issue Arrest Warrants for Man Accused of Accosting NBC Reporter?

Benjamin Eugene Dagley was on probation in August 2021 for a previous conviction for felony assault and vandalism stemming from an incident involving potentially dangerous chemicals.

Published Sep 1, 2021

Updated Sep 2, 2021
Image Via MSNBC/YouTube
In August 2021, police in Gulfport, Mississippi, issued arrest warrants for Benjamin Dagley, who is accused of accosting an NBC reporter during coverage of Hurricane Ida.

In August and September 2021, several news outlets reported that police in Gulfport, Miss. had issued arrest warrants for Benjamin Eugene Dagley, who is accused of having accosted NBC News reporter Shaquille Brewster during a live broadcast as part of the network's coverage of Hurricane Ida on Aug. 30.

Articles to that effect were published by People magazine, Deadline, the Daily Beast, and WEWS, a Cleveland, Ohio ABC affiliate.

Those reports were accurate. On Aug. 31, Gulfport police issued arrest warrants for Dagley, of Wooster, Ohio, on two counts of simple assault, one count of disturbing the peace, and one count of violation of emergency curfew.

On Sep. 2, after this fact check was originally published, the U.S. Marshals Service announced it had arrested Dagley at a shopping plaza in Dayton, Ohio, earlier that day.

During Brewster's live dispatch from Gulfport on Aug. 30, a white truck could be seen parking in the background. A white man could be seen exiting the vehicle and jogging towards Brewster, and appeared to say "You all are going to report this accurately, right?" Brewster moves aside, and the camera pivots towards him, leaving the man off screen, but audible in the background.

As the man's shouting becomes louder, Brewster decides to end his dispatch, and just before the broadcast cuts back to the studio, the man moves suddenly towards Brewster, shouting in his face, and Brewster fends him off.


Later that day, Gulfport police appealed to the public for help in identifying the man who accosted Brewster, and by Aug. 31, they had named him as Dagley. In a news release, police said that by travelling to Mississippi, Dagley may have violated the terms of his probation in connection with a previous conviction in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

Police added that Dagley was believed to no longer be in the Gulfport area, and was driving a white Ford F150 truck. They appealed for the public's help in identifying his whereabouts. On Sep. 2, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) announced it had taken Dagley into custody in Dayton, Ohio, earlier that day. In a news release, the USMS wrote:

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.

Cuyahoga County court records show that Dagley, who is 54 years old, was charged with nine counts, back in August 2017:

  • Deployment of a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon
  • Felony assault (two counts)
  • Inducing panic (two counts)
  • Breaking and entering
  • Vandalism (two counts)
  • Extortion

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, those charges related to an incident in which Dagley broke into a Cleveland electroplating business that he used to own, and drilled holes in tanks containing various chemicals, including sodium cyanide and hydrochloric acid.

In 2018, Dagley pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault, one count of inducing panic, and one count of vandalism, and Cuyahoga County Court of Common Please Judge Michael Russo sentenced him to serve one month in the county jail, followed by five years of community control probation.

On Aug. 27, 2021, Judge Russo ordered a probation violation hearing for Dagley, to take place on Sep. 15. That order came three days before the incident involving Brewster, and it's not clear to what it was related.

On Aug. 31, after the incident involving Brewster, a capias (arrest warrant) was sent from the court to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff, after a probation officer complained that Dagley had "left the state of Ohio without permission."


[Updated] Sep. 2, 2021: Updated to reflect the U.S. Marshals Service's announcement that its agents had arrested Dagley in Dayton, Ohio on Sep. 2, 2021.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.