A man dressed in an animal costume and wearing what police suspected was an explosive device strode into a Baltimore television station Thursday afternoon and,
A man dressed in an animal costume and wearing what police suspected was an explosive device strode into a Baltimore television station Thursday afternoon and, after a standoff, was shot three times by city police officers.
The 25-year-old man was in serious condition at a hospital Thursday night. The suspicious device turned out to be chocolate bars, wrapped in foil and attached to wires and a computer circuit board.
Police were investigating why the man, whom they did not identify, went to the FOX 45 television studios on 41st Street in Woodberry.
"Why did he do this? We don't know the answer to that," said police spokesman T.J. Smith. "And we want to know the answer to that."
Ed Brizzi of Elkridge told The Baltimore Sun that the man is his son, Alex Brizzi. He said that his son, who lives at home, has been troubled in recent weeks and that his actions on Thursday were not politically motivated.
The situation began to unfold at 1:20 p.m., when police got a call for a suspicious person at the television station and another for a car on fire in the parking lot.
Security guard Jourael Apostolides said the man walked into the news station's vestibule, insisting he had information to share. He was dressed in what appeared to be a full-body hedgehog jumpsuit and boots, Apostolides said.
The man also was wearing a surgical mask and sunglasses.
Apostolides said the man was wearing what looked like a bomb. He said he discreetly called 911.
The guard said he didn't let the man into the lobby but took a flash drive from him. It contained video of the man talking about space and the government, Apostolides said.
Police said officers fired after the man ignored their commands.
"The suspect came out of the building and started advancing towards officers, was not listening to any of the officers' orders," Smith said. "Officers were telling him to take his hands out of his pockets."
Four officers fired at the man, who was struck at least three times, Smith said.
The man remained in the street for more than an hour, police said, his hands still in his pockets and continuing to ignore their commands. Officers eventually brought in a robot to remove his clothes and the device.
Officers could be seen loading the unclothed man into a tactical vehicle and driving away. The tactical vehicle later returned to the station, as officers and firefighters combed the building for any explosives.
The car that was set on fire in the parking lot is believed to be the man's car, Smith said.
"What he wanted them to air, we're still investigating," Smith said. "We don't have the full answers to that."
No charges have been filed yet in the incident.
Ed Brizzi of Elkridge says that the man is his son, Alex Brizzi, and that he has been troubled in recent weeks. (WJZ video)
Television station employees had evacuated the building by the time police arrived. Station employees watched from behind yellow police tape as police investigated the incident, many of them updating social media sites with news from their own workplace.
News director Mike Tomko said he got a look at the man but didn't recognize him. "He didn't look familiar to me," he said.
Police closed off areas around the station, including the 41st Street bridge over the Jones Falls Expressway. The station and roads reopened later Thursday night.
Thursday's situation at FOX 45 recalled an incident at WMAR-TV in Towson nearly two years ago, when a man claiming to be God rammed a stolen landscaping truck into the station building. He barricaded himself in the building for several hours.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the incidents underscore the importance for workplaces to have plans in place for emergencies. He praised FOX 45 for evacuating the building, which he said saved police time.
"Public spaces and places where people get their news from and government agencies that serve our community are occasionally vulnerable, if not always vulnerable," Davis said.
Davis said it's become too common to have a situation caused by "the bizarre, dangerous behavior of a singular individual."