UPDATE: BCSO searching for person who vandalized Channel 7 equipment

Local News

Update as of 10 p.m. on November 1, 2021.

PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office is looking for the person who vandalized a local television station’s transmitting equipment.

WJHG is slowly restoring its ability to broadcast this evening after someone cut some crucial fiber lines and cables.

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said someone walked onto the station’s property on Front Beach Road and started cutting the lines.

He said around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, a station employee noticed the trespasser, who then ran off.

“An employee had started to notice some of their feeds dropping around that time,” Ford said. “He tried to resolve them technically before going out and checking the satellites.”

According to the incident report, the employee walked outside to the rear of the building and found a white man in a dark jacket and camouflage jeans tampering with the satellite dishes.

“He made some statement that really didn’t make sense that he was sent by a government agency,” Ford said.

Ford said the man then took off running along Front Beach Road. 

Before he left, he caused significant damage, cutting nine cables on those dishes, along with some of the wiring on the building. 

It knocked WJHG’s NBC, CBS, CW and MY-network affiliates off the air. 

Ford said they are doing an extensive search of the station property.

“We’ve had our crime scene unit out there all day taking fingerprints and DNA swabs to see if we are able to locate them and be able to tie them back,” Ford said. “We also had a potential eye witness even though it was dark.” 

This includes security footage from the station as well as surrounding businesses.

“If we can see if he got into a vehicle, we want to identify that vehicle or which way he walked things like that,” Ford said. “We are looking at some of the transient camps nearby.”

WJHG was able to broadcast most of the day to WOW! and AT&T customers.

Crews have been working nonstop to restore broadcasting capabilities to everyone else.

Sheriff Ford said this man could be facing federal charges from the Federal Communications Commission for interrupting a broadcasting facility. 

Our previous story:

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — WJHG was off air Monday morning after someone allegedly vandalized their transmitting equipment.

According to the station’s Facebook page the incident happened about 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The damages knocked off the NBC affiliate Channel 7, WECP and other location stations owned by their parent company, Gray Television. The Bay County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

News 13 is assisting Channel 7 as they work to get back on air.

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