Benjamin Eugene Dagley, who local police say is the man seen angrily confronting MSNBC correspondent Shaquille Brewster during live coverage of Hurricane Ida in Mississippi, was also charged in Ohio in 2017 for nearly causing what one Cleveland newspaper described as a “potential environmental disaster.”
Gulfport’s NBC News affiliate flagged a Cleveland Plain Dealer article from August 2017 detailing criminal charges against Dagley, who had allegedly drilled holes into tanks of dangerous chemicals at an electroplating company.
Dagley, who was then a resident of Ohio, was charged with breaking and entering a business called Cleveland Plating. Although Dagley was identified in police reports as a former co-owner of the company, the Plain Dealer reported that court records show he owned a similar electroplating company at the same location before Cleveland Plating took over. Dagley still owned the property itself at the time.
According to a Cleveland police report cited by the Plain Dealer, Dagley’s actions sent one employee of the electroplating company to the hospital for exposure to toxic chemicals, and risked a potential environmental disaster. Surveillance footage showed that the tanks Dagley drilled holes into contained sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, yellow chromate, ferrous chloride, and sulfuric acid, the plant’s owner told the Plain Dealer.
Cleveland police said employees reported that the released chemicals “are severe enough to cause a large scale catastrophe, and Dagley knew what he was doing,” according to the paper.
The criminal charges, however, did not prevent Dagley from returning to the property about two months later, the report said.
Dagley was then reportedly hit with a new charge — misdemeanor assault — after he attempted to break into the business through a roll door.
Dagley allegedly yelled at a security guard through a crack in an office door, then slammed the door into the guard’s knee and punched him in the mouth, the Plain Dealer reported, citing police reports and court documents.
Court records from Cuyahoga County obtained by TPM show that Dagley ultimately pleaded guilty in 2018 to attempted felonious assault, inducing panic, and vandalism in the case. Dagley was sentenced to five years on probation and 30 days in jail; ordered to undergo anger management; and forced to pay $15,370 in restitution and a $5,000 fine.
The re-emergence of Dagley’s criminal past comes a day after the Gulfport Police Department in Mississippi issued an arrest warrant for him following his irate confrontation with Brewster during live coverage of Hurricane Ida in Mississippi on Monday.
The Gulfport Police Department charged Dagley with two counts of simple assault, one count of disturbance of the peace and one count of violation of emergency curfew.