BALTIMORE - Police shot a man dressed in an animal suit after he walked into a Baltimore television station claiming to have a bomb underneath his costume.
The suspect in this incident has been confirmed by his father as 25-year-old Alex Brizzi of Elkridge, Maryland in Howard County. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with police executed a search warrant Thursday night at his parents' home in Elkridge where he resided as well. Sources familiar with the investigation said the family has been cooperative with the investigation and Brizzi had no prior criminal history.
The bizarre situation began after police said they received a call at around 1:20 p.m. Thursday from a building on West 41st Street where Fox 45 (WBFF-TV) is located. The call was about a man who walked into the lobby with some sort of possible explosive device, causing an evacuation of the building. In addition, police received another call about a burning vehicle in the television station's parking lot, which was determined to be intentionally set by the man.
Baltimore police spokesperson T.J. Smith said the suspec was wearing what was described as a panda onesie outfit with a coat underneath along with a surgical mask over his face. He barricaded himself in the building and had brought a flash drive with information that he wanted the television station to air on its news broadcast. Police said they are still investigating the contents of the flash drive.
After police attempted to communicate with the suspect, he left the building and started to walk across the street towards officers. Police said he refused commands to show his hands when three of them fired and struck the man several times. The suspect was taken to the hospital and was in serious, but stable condition. Police said he is expected to survive. Ed Brizzi, the suspect's father, said his son underwent surgery after being shot four times, hit in the neck, buttocks and leg.
Smith said after using a bomb-detecting robot to take the device off of him, police discovered that the man was not wearing an actual bomb, but instead had a red floatation device secured to his waist with chocolate candy bars wrapped in aluminum foil and wiring connecting each of them that made it appear to look like explosives. Also attached to the device was a small motherboard from a fire extinguisher with wire running down his sleeve into his hand, which emulated a detonation-type device.
Brizzi's father told FOX 5 he first noticed something wrong with his son about two weeks ago.
“My son came up to me and said I’ve had a revelation from God and Jesus, that he gave me the message that the world is going to end on June 3rd and I need to get this message to people,” Ed Brizzi said Thursday night to FOX 5. “And that's when we figured out that there was something wrong. About four days later, he went out for a walk, he wound up in somebody's yard, they called the police, and he was lying in the yard. The police came and it took seven policemen who told him down and they took him to Saint Agnes [Hospital] and Saint Agnes said he had been severely dehydrated. At that point, we thought it was dehydration.”
But Alex's father said he was not expecting his son's previous actions would lead to Thursday's incident.
“My wife the other day went down to his room when he had left for a little while and said he was working with something with wires and we just weren't able to connect the dots,” Brizzi said. “I had no idea what was going to happen. He seemed pretty normal. He was kind of quiet, but I didn't see any signs that he was going to do anything to himself or anybody else.”
According to Fox 45’s website, all staff members were allowed back into the building at 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," 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."