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Crime

Police walk back claims that a TV series production crew was threatened in Baltimore

Claims that a driver in the crew filming “Lady in the Lake” saw a gun and that money was given to a group of people in exchange for permission to film in the area were “inaccurate,” Baltimore Police said in report released Tuesday.

Police said they investigated the initial report that the driver was threatened with violence and determined the incident was a dispute between a local street vendor selling clothes downtown and crew members filming the TV series.

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Even though it turned out not to be true, the Baltimore Police’s initial comments that a threat of violence delayed filming on the AppleTV+ series sparked a round of unfavorable coverage and commentary about Baltimore and its problems with crime.

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The 40-year-old man who first reported the incident to police declined to comment to The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday, saying he had to meet with police Wednesday to make a full statement.

The man initially told police that individuals demanded $50,000 to film in the location and then brandished a gun at one of the crew members, according to the police report. But when an officer asked for a description of the gun, the man changed his story.

“Once questioned what the gun looked like [the witness] then retracted his original statement of seeing the gun and advised that he did not see a gun but that one of the drivers [had] seen the gun,” the police report said.

After officers spoke with crew members, police concluded that the initial claims were “inaccurate,” according to the police report released Tuesday.

According to that police report, a woman identified as the supervisor for the security firm working with the film crew was among those interviewed by police. She initially told officers that a group of people wanted $4,000 for the film crew to be able to film in the area and then changed the amount to $50,000, police said.

“While continuing to speak with [the supervisor] she then stated that no money was given to anyone and that she did not have any knowledge of who made the threats or request for money,” the report said.

Endeavor Content, which is the studio for “Lady in the Lake,” did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

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The initial reports caused the production company to reschedule the shoot after it found another location.

Endeavor Content spokesperson Sharon Liggins said in a statement Monday that the production would continue on schedule with increased security measures.

Liggins also said Monday that two men confronted a driver on the production crew and “brandished a gun directed at our driver, and then they fled the location.”

But on Tuesday, police said detectives learned that a local street vendor was “upset that he had not been compensated by the production for lost business, since he could not operate his clothing business while the crew was filming at that location.”

Police on Monday arrested the vendor, a 43-year-old man from Pikesville, and charged him with drug-related offenses. He told police that he had talked with a crew member and a security manager and was awaiting paperwork to receive compensation for lost business on Friday.

Police said the man did not have a gun and was not charged with gun-related offenses. The man did not have an attorney listed in online court records and no one answered the door at a recent address listed for him.

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Police said detectives continue to interview others connected to the incident and that the case remains open.

“This was determined to be inaccurate and the victim’s recollection of the incident changed during the investigation,” the police report said.

The series, based on a bestselling novel of the same name by local author Laura Lippman, takes place in Baltimore in 1966 and stars Natalie Portman and Moses Ingram.

The Maryland Department of Commerce describes the series this way: “An unsolved murder pushes a housewife and mother to reinvent herself as an investigative journalist and sets her on a collision course with a hard-working woman juggling motherhood, many jobs, and a passionate commitment to advancing Baltimore’s Black progressive agenda.”

Lippman, who is a former Sun reporter, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Filming began in April and is expected to continue until October.

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Baltimore Sun reporters Lea Skene and Mary Carole McCauley contributed to this article.


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