BALTIMORE- The Baltimore Police Department is attempting to interview the ‘Lady in the Lake’ production driver who allegedly witnessed an extortion attempt made by two men, one of whom is accused of being armed.
Investigators said the incident took place around 4 pm Friday on Park Avenue near Saratoga Street in Downtown Baltimore; a block that was turned into a 1960s-era set for the murder mystery series slated to air on Apple TV+.
A member of the crew initially reported to police that a gun was flashed by one of two individuals who demanded $50,000 to allow filming to continue or threatened to come back later to shoot someone.
But after being asked to describe the gun, the crew member retracted the statement about seeing it and claimed a production driver viewed the firearm, according to a police report.
The crew member “only stated that he observed a large amount of marijuana 10 hours ago,'” despite the alleged confrontation being reported 30 minutes before officers arrived on the set Aug. 26, the document revealed.
A woman identified as the supervisor for the security firm working the set told police a different version of events, which included a group of people who demanded $4,000 to allow filming to continue in the area. That amount was then revised to $50,000, police explained.
She went on to explain “that the group threatened to shoot in the air unless they received the money,” according to the incident report. But an officer later determined she did not witness the alleged incident.
Police confirmed this investigation led to a production pause for the rest of that night.
On Tuesday, Baltimore Police made no mention of an extortion attempt but did confirm an arrest was made.
Detectives determined a local street vendor was upset that he had not been compensated by the production company for lost business because he was unable to operate while the crew was filming in that location.
The vendor was identified by police as 43-year-old Keith Brown of Pikesville. He was arrested not in connection to making threats but for narcotics possession.
Brown told police that he talked with a crew member and security member about awaiting paperwork to receive compensation for lost business that Friday.
On Wednesday, the production team packed up their props, returning the 200 block of Park Avenue to its nearly abandoned state.
“Baltimore has a bad stigma so they shut it down. That’s not what we want,” Baltimore resident Brian Hawkins said. “We want to revitalize this town.”
Hawkins said community members keep watch of the neighborhood from Meadow Park feet from where the alleged incident took place.
“All I know is, there was no drug dealing on the block because we weren’t having it,” Hawkins said. “We’re not going to allow it in close proximity to where we have grandkids and old people.”
Film company Endeavor Content confirmed production of the series will continue in the Baltimore-region but moving forward with more security measures in place.
“The safety and security of our crew, cast and all who work across our productions is our highest priority, and we are thankful no one was injured,” the company released in a statement.
While police continue to call this an active and ongoing investigation, detectives are looking to interview any additional witnesses and plan to review surveillance footage from the area.
“What we’re doing is investigating,” Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott said. “We’re gonna have our detectives working through all of it: talking to witnesses, talking with people that were there, looking at video surveillance and then our detectives will move forward accordingly.”
‘Lady in the Lake’ features Natalie Portman and is based on a novel written by former Baltimore Sun reporter, Laura Lippman.