An individual, known as the “squirrel man,” was arrested Monday morning for allegedly attacking a reporter in New York City.
The 44-year-old man, identified as Rewell Altunaga, allegedly hit a New York Post reporter with a bag filled with his possessions, according to the New York Post. Local officials and New York Police Department (NYPD) officers were there to evict the man who had illegally constructed a treehouse in a state park in Upper Manhattan. (RELATED: NYC Mayor Eric Adams Blames Rise In Violence On America’s ‘Fixation With Guns’)
Video footage appears to show the reporter being hit twice with a tree branch.
— New York Post (@nypost) March 28, 2022
After appearing to hit the reporter, Altunaga walked toward 147th Street and allegedly hit a New York Post photographer, destroying his camera, prompting law enforcement to arrest him, according to the outlet.
Altunaga’s makeshift treehouse was located in Riverbank State Park where city leaders issued a one-day “notice of clean up” and arrived with chainsaws to begin taking down the trees in the area, the Post reported.
The incident comes after Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams ordered the dismantling of homeless campsites in the city, saying, “people are not going to live in makeshift, dangerous housing,” the outlet reported.
“We’re going to rid the encampments off our street and we’re going to place people in healthy living conditions with wraparound services,” Adams said Friday, according to the Guardian.
Authorities said Altunaga was charged with assault and criminal mischief, according to the Post.