Baltimore police charge man, 25, in TV station standoff

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

The 25-year-old man who wore an animal costume and what appeared to be an explosive device that turned out to be chocolate bars and wire faces felony charges in Thursday's standoff at a Baltimore television station.

Alex Michael Brizzi of Elkridge remained hospitalized in serious but stable condition under police guard Friday after being shot by three Baltimore officers outside the Fox 45 studios in Television Hill.

At a Friday news conference, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said that while the vest around Brizzi's torso turned out to be a life preserver outfitted with candy and wire, fear that it might be real "had shut down an entire community and scared a whole lot of people."

Police have not identified the officers who fired but said they have been placed on routine administrative leave pending an investigation.

Brizzi, who is accused of setting his car on fire in the station's parking lot, was charged with second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning, both felonies. He also is charged with threat of arson, possession of a phony destructive device and four counts of reckless endangerment, which are misdemeanors.

His father, Ed Brizzi, said Friday he had not yet seen the charges but the family has retained an attorney.

Ed Brizzi said he was on his way to the hospital to see his son. "He's going to make it," he said.

Ed Brizzi has said that his son is troubled and that he did not believe his actions were politically motivated. He told WJZ-TV his son believed the world would end June 3.

"He came to me and said, 'I got a vision from God and Jesus,'" Ed Brizzi said.

Police released new details Friday and discussed their approach in taking Brizzi into custody. They were called to the studios about 1:20 p.m. Thursday and told that a bomb threat had been called in.

Brizzi went to the station wearing a costume that "we know now to be a hedgehog onesie" and a surgical mask, Davis said. The outfit appeared to be associated with Japanese anime culture, he said.

Police said Brizzi set fire to his car outside the building. In the building vestibule, Brizzi encountered a security guard and spoke to him through glass.

He had a flash drive with his "video rants ... talking about the end of the world" that he wanted the station to air, Davis said.

As Brizzi remained in the vestibule area, the guard alerted Fox staff and the building was evacuated.

City police dispatched an arson unit, a bomb squad, SWAT team, negotiators and others. About 3 p.m., Brizzi went outside, where officers repeatedly gave him orders that he refused to follow, Davis said.

Brizzi kept one hand in his pocket and advanced toward officers, Davis said. Three officers opened fire, hitting Brizzi three times.

Brizzi was "conscious and alert" after being hit, Davis said.

"We wanted to render first aid, but we absolutely, positively couldn't do that because he still had his hand on what appeared to be a detonator-type device and he was still strapped with what appeared to be explosives," Davis said.

A robot used to inspect suspicious packages disrobed Brizzi and removed the vest. The wiring was connected to a circuit board that came from a smoke detector, police said.

Davis said the possibility of using nonlethal means was "not on the table" because police believed Brizzi was armed with explosives.

"Police officers in Baltimore, just like police of this country, do not shoot a person to wound a person," Davis said. "We shoot to stop a threat."

Investigators who searched the station and Brizzi's home in Howard County found no real or fake explosives, police said. They said his family has been cooperating with the investigation.

Davis said investigators are examining the contents of the flash drive that Brizzi gave to the television station, conducting interviews and examining Brizzi's social media accounts.

"It doesn't look like he had any extensive criminal history, certainly not involving this type of activity," police spokesman T.J. Smith said.

Davis praised security officer Jourael Apostolides, noting that Brizzi never made it past the vestibule of the television station and that the staff was quickly alerted.

"I can't say enough about what he did," Davis said. "He's absolutely a hero."

alisonk@baltsun.com

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