Reporters are often prepared for anything when it comes to getting a story, but nothing could — or should — have prepared Georgia journalist Alex Bozarjian for the shocking moment she experienced while on live TV this weekend. Bozarjian was covering the annual Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run on Saturday when a man ran by and appeared to grope her.
The stunning clip posted to Twitter on Saturday morning shows the reporter for NBC/CW+-affiliate WSAV-TV speaking on camera and smiling by the side of the race as participants fly by.
Many runners interacted with her during the 16-second clip, but the moment turned on its side when one man passed by. The video purportedly shows a male runner at the 12-second mark apparently hit the reporter from behind. Bozarjian looked surprised and stared off toward him before quickly regaining her composure.
— Tonya (@GrrrlZilla) December 7, 2019
The video went viral, garnering more than 8 million views, and evoked an immediate response from users online.
"The look on her face and the shift in her voice broke my heart. It's so disgusting that this guy decided to do this," wrote user @TheLukewarmMess. Other users urged her to press charges. "What an [sic] moron for doing that you should press charges he assaulted you," wrote Victor V. Dominguez, who, according to his bio, is a local news photojournalist.
Some believed the internet condemnation was going too far — with multiple users allegedly discovering the man's personal information online and posting it to the platform. "Yes it's inappropriate but I don't think he needs to be stoned to death," wrote user @kelreed1. "Posting his name or what we think is his name seem very inappropriate. I'm sure the reporter is capable of handing the situation."
Bozarjian spoke out about the incident herself later that day on Twitter. "To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me," she said. "No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better."
To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better. https://t.co/PRLXkBY5hn
— Alex Bozarjian (@wsavalexb) December 7, 2019
WSAV-TV called the man's actions "reprehensible and completely unacceptable."
"No one should ever be disrespected in this manner," the station said in a statement. "The safety and protection of our employees is WSAV-TV's highest priority. WSAV supports Alex completely as she determines the steps she wants to take next."
Savannah Police public information coordinator Keturah Greene told CBS News the department has made contact with Bozarjian and "are more than willing and ready to work with her depending on how she would like to move forward about the incident."
Greene emphasized police involvement depends on what Bozarjian "would like to do next."
The Savannah Sports Council — which owns and operates the bridge run — also issued a statement Sunday to CBS News and also responded publicly to the incident.
"Yesterday at the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run a reporter from WSAV was inappropriately touched by a registered participant of the event," the group wrote in multiple tweets. "Our title sponsor, Enmarket and the Savannah Sports Council take this matter extremely seriously and fully condemn this individual's actions."
The council said it has identified the individual and shared his information with Bozarjian and WSAV-TV. It also announced he is banned from registering for all races owned by the organization. He's been identified as Tommy Callaway.
A lawyer for the man released a statement saying, "While we regret the situation, Mr. Callaway did not act with any criminal intentions. Tommy is a loving husband and father who is very active in his community." The statement said he has been in touch with WSAV-TV and Bozarjian, and is "working with those involved to correct the situation."
Disclosure: The CW Network — a joint venture between WarnerMedia and CBS — is a division of ViacomCBS.