‘Birmingham News’ Photog Harassed by Coaches, Fans at H.S. Softball Game

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(AP) Assistant softball coaches from Vestavia Hills confronted a Birmingham News photographer and fans screamed at her as she took pictures after Vestavia Hills’ loss to Baker High in the Class 6A championship game.

Assistant coaches Mark Brooks and Rin Smithson approached News photographer Linda Stelter, who was on the field and taking pictures through a fence into the Vestavia Hills dugout, where some players were crying after Friday’s game.

Some fans in the Vestavia Hills section screamed at Stelter and one kicked dirt in her direction. Brooks said some of the players did not want their photos taken at that moment.

“The whole thing could have been solved if she would have given us a moment,” Brooks told The Birmingham News, which reported on the confrontation Sunday.

Stelter said Smithson “kept putting his hand on my camera and pushing it into my nose.” Smithson said he put his hand in front of the camera. “I didn’t touch her or her camera,” he said.

Brooks said someone in the crowd threw a plastic bottle onto the field. At one point he went over the fence and scolded some for their behavior.

“Our parents, they shouldn’t have done what they did,” he said. “Thank God there was a fence there. They probably would have gone after the woman.”

Dan Washburn, executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, said the organization is committed to protecting the media at events and would investigate if it gets a written complaint.

Birmingham News Editor Tom Scarritt said Monday no decision had been made on whether any action would be taken.

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