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Baltimore police charge 25-year-old who strode into TV station wearing animal costume

Baltimore police have charged a 25-year-old Elkridge man with arson and reckless endangerment after he strode into a Baltimore television station Thursday afternoon dressed in an animal costume and wearing what police suspected at the time was an explosive device.

The suspicious device turned out to be chocolate bars, wrapped in foil and attached to wires and a computer circuit board.

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Alex Michael Brizzi, of the 6300 block of Ducketts Lane in Howard County, remained in serious but stable condition at a hospital Friday. He was shot by police three times Thursday after a standoff.

He has been charged with second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning — both felonies — and threat of arson, four counts of reckless endangerment and possession of a phony destructive device, which are misdemeanors.

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"Why did he do this? We don't know the answer to that," said police spokesman T.J. Smith on Thursday. "And we want to know the answer to that."

Ed Brizzi of Elkridge told The Baltimore Sun Thursday that Alex Brizzi, who lives with his father, has been troubled in recent weeks and that his actions 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. The car was Brizzi's, police said Friday.

Security guard Jourael Apostolides said a man, later identified as Brizzi, 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. He also was wearing a surgical mask and sunglasses.

The guard said he didn't let the man into the lobby but took a flash drive from him and discreetly called 911. It contained video of the man talking about space and the government, Apostolides said. In the video, Brizzi talks about the end of the world, police said.

The man "essentially barricaded himself" in the station, Smith said.

About 3 p.m., Brizzi was seen walking out of the station onto 41st Street. A handful of officers in dark uniforms, one with a shield, walked alongside.

Four loud bangs rang out; 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."

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. He continued to ignore police 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 explosives.

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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.

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.

Federal agents were at the Brizzi home Thursday night. A search of the station and suspect's home found no real or fake explosives.

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