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Paparazzo says surfers accosted him in Malibu

Photographer trying to get shots of Matthew McConaughey at the beach says a camera was tossed into ocean.

June 23, 2008|Ari B. Bloomekatz | Times Staff Writer

A paparazzo trying to photograph and videotape actor Matthew McConaughey at the beach Saturday told police he was attacked by a mob of surfers who threw his camera in the ocean and struck him.

The 29-year-old paparazzo from Santa Monica told sheriff's deputies that a large group of surfers near Paradise Cove in Malibu approached him and other paparazzi about 2 p.m. and demanded that they stop taking pictures and videotaping.

"They formed a semicircle in front of his camera and they said they didn't want him to film," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore. "They got into an argument, and he indicated that he received injuries. . . . [They] took the video camera and threw it in the water."

Whitmore said detectives with the Sheriff's Department's Lost Hills Station were investigating the incident.

He said that those who videotaped Saturday's clash between paparazzi and surfers had yet to turn in the videos to authorities.

Celebrity websites TMZ.com and x17online.com posted videos that were allegedly taken at the time of the incident. The video on x17online shows about 13 young men in swimsuits approaching and yelling at what appears to be a group of paparazzi.

"I'll give you a thousand bucks if you leave right now," said one surfer, who took a sip of his beverage and then made a vulgar gesture with his middle finger to the video camera. "Hey, you guys, they don't want you here, and nobody that lives here wants you here," said another person.

"Let's go. We'll draw a line in the beach, and we'll fight for the beach. If you guys win, you can have the beach," said another.

One of the group of apparent paparazzi on the x17online video appeared to argue with the surfers, saying that the beach was public property and he had every right to be there.

"This is public property, this is public property," he said.

The video then shows two beachgoers chasing one of the paparazzi, dragging him into the water and kicking him.

Malibu officials and residents have struggled with an apparently increasing paparazzi presence throughout the area.

They say members of the celebrity media camp out at movie theaters and shopping centers and wait for stars to show up.

Some merchants in the last few years have complained about paparazzi blocking store entrances, and residents have complained of high-speed chases by paparazzi following celebrities on Pacific Coast Highway.

In May, Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich said she asked Ken Starr -- now dean of the law school at Pepperdine University and former independent counsel during President Clinton's sex scandal -- to help draft a city ordinance that could include "buffer zones" as well as a possible tax on paparazzi.

"We're coming up on another summer season. Let's hope we are not in store for another tsunami of paparazzi," Ulich said in May. "Maybe they will think twice before shoving a camera in your face."

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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