Man in animal costume shot after making bomb threat at Baltimore's FOX45
GRAPHIC VIDEO WARNING: The video above shows the moments just before Baltimore police shot a man who reportedly threatened to blow up WBFF-TV in Baltimore.
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- A Baltimore TV news station found itself the subject of the evening news after a harrowing day involving a man in an animal "onesie," a bomb threat, a few candy bars and a robot.
The 25-year-old suspect, who investigators identified as a white male from Howard County, was shot by police after forcing an evacuation of the WBFF-TV news station in north Baltimore with a bomb threat.
The man set his car on fire in the station's parking lot before demanding the station air a story he brought with him on a flash drive. Police couldn't confirm the contents of the flash drive, although the station's security guard said it had to do with government conspiracies.
The man, whose name wasn't released Thursday, then threatened to blow up the building after being denied entry to the station's lobby. The man was wearing a surgical mask, sunglasses and what police described as a "panda outfit onesie" with a hood and a red vest-like device underneath. The building was evacuated after it was believed the device was actually a bomb.
Police - including a SWAT team and a bomb squad - were dispatched to the Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned Fox affiliate at 1:20 p.m. after the suspect barricaded himself in the building. Police were unsure how far he made it into the building in the 2000 block of West 41st Street.
A team of firefighters extinguished the flames coming out of the suspect's sedan's gas tank, while officers blocked off the street before sending in a negotiator.
The man walked outside and was followed by at least four officers in tactical gear. Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said the man had his hands in his pockets with a wire leading down his arm from the red device strapped to his chest.
Smith said the man refused to follow the officers' orders to stop and take his hands out of his pockets.
"When you have a non-compliant individual, you have to do what you have to do," Smith said.
A Baltimore police counter sniper fired and struck the man, who went down in the middle of West 41st Street. Several shots were fired, although Smith couldn't confirm exactly how many. The echo of at least three shots could be heard on video that captured the shooting.
Fearing the device strapped to the man's chest was a bomb, police dispatched a robot to communicate with the man, who continued to disobey police orders.
Several minutes passed and the man was still lying in the middle of the street after being shot. Medics could not tend to his injuries because he refused to take his hands out of his pockets.
"He was described as conscious and alert, just uncooperative," Smith said. "He was saying no when we were asking him to comply."
Eventually, the man complied to police orders and the robot disarmed him of his vest.
"The device that he had was not an actually [am explosive] device," Smith said.
The red device was discovered to be chocolate candy bars wrapped in aluminum foil, held together with wiring and strapped to a motherboard, Smith said.
"The most important thing right now, and I cannot stress this enough, is public safety," Smith said.
The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Smith said, at last check, the suspect was in "serious but stable" condition and was expected to survive.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said, "it's become all too common for us to gather like this to examine the bizarre. Unfortunately, we'll probably learn the same-old same-old about this man. I can predict it."
Fox 45 staffers were allowed back into the building by 7 p.m.
"Someone came into the front of the building and they apparently said that they had some information they wanted to get on the air," FOX45 News Director Mike Tomko told reporters. "I came down at one point not knowing the person was in the lobby, near the vestibule area. He talked to me and was wearing what appears to be a full body white panda suit, surgical mask and sunglasses. He had a flash drive, said he had information he wanted to get on the air. He compared it to the information found in the Panama Papers. I told him, 'I can't let you in, you're going to have to leave the flash drive here and slide it through the opening.' He wouldn't do that. Apparently he had made some threats before."
According to Tomko, another threat was made earlier in the day to another employee, though specifics of that threat are unknown at this time.