Video: Reporter tells all

updated 9/7/2006 10:01:25 AM ET 2006-09-07T14:01:25

A television reporter investigating a suspected real estate scam was attacked by a woman and her husband, who punched and tackled him as a cameraman videotaped the incident.

Reporter John Mattes of Fox 6 News said he was treated for cracked ribs, bite wounds and cuts to his face after the confrontation Tuesday. The couple, identified by authorities as Assad “Sam” Suleiman, 36, and his wife, Rosa Amelia Barraza, 33, were arrested.

“He had his fingers in my eye socket, he was ripping my face apart, he was pulling my ears, he was biting,” Mattes told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday. “It was horrifying and it felt pretty bad.”

The television footage shows Mattes and XETV cameraman Dennis Waldrop talking to a man outside a La Jolla area home when a woman arrives and starts screaming at the reporter: “Why are you doing this?” and “Stop it!” She throws water from a bottle at the pair and strikes Mattes in the face with the plastic container.

A man, identified by Fox 6 News as Suleiman, then gets out of a car and punches Mattes in the face and head and puts him in a headlock.

‘He ... just came flying straight at me’
Brian Phillips, the man about to be interviewed, tried to pull Suleiman off Mattes, but the three fell to the ground and Suleiman continued to kick at Mattes.

“He literally just came flying straight at me ... and I am feeling someone ripping at my face, pulling at my hair,” Mattes said. “We are talking about someone gouging, scratching and biting me.”

The video showed blood streaks and cuts on Mattes’ face as he tried to get away.

Barraza, who during the confrontation threatened to get a gun, was booked for investigation of making a terrorist threat, battery, and theft for allegedly grabbing the cameraman’s microphone, Police Lt. Dan Christman said. He said Suleiman was booked for investigation of felony assault.

Bail posted
Police Detective Gary Hassen said the pair posted bail Tuesday night.

Suleiman and Barraza could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. A number listed for an Assad Suleiman in San Diego was disconnected. A man reached at a La Jolla number listed for Rosa Barraza identified himself as Suleiman’s brother and had no comment.

No charges have been filed against either in connection with the real estate allegations Mattes was investigating.

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