Baltimore police have detained the suspect of a bomb threat at one of the city’s news stations, PEOPLE confirms. At around 1:20 p.m. on Thursday, the suspect – who police only identified as a 25-year-old, white male – entered the Fox 45 station’s lobby area, wearing what police described as a panda onesie [though it appeared to be a hedgehog onesie] with a coat underneath and a surgical mask.
In a press conference from Baltimore police department’s Media Relations Director T.J. Smith and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, it was revealed that the suspect encountered a contracted security guard in the lobby and displayed what appeared to be an explosive device. all of which were accounted for and uninjured –were able to evacuate the building as police were showing up.
Upon arriving, officers also located a vehicle near the station that had been set on fire, which they determined was arson. They did not say if it was connected to the bomb threat. Once officers got to the scene, the suspect voluntarily exited the station and began advancing towards police.
According to Smith, police were forced to open fire, as the suspect was not complying with officers’ demands as he moved closer. At that point, three Baltimore police officers fired seven times, and hit the suspect at least three.
The suspect is currently at a local hospital in serious but stable condition and is expected to survive.
However, before authorities could detain the suspect – who Smith said was alert and conscious, but uncooperative as he lie in the street after being shot – a robot was used to disarm him, removing his hand from his pocket where it had stayed throughout the entire police encounter.
When police were finally able to approach the suspect they learned the device he was wearing was actually a replica explosive made out of chocolate candy bars wrapped in aluminum foil with wiring connecting each bar. A small motherboard, made from something in a fire extinguisher was also attached. In addition to the parts on his body, the suspect had a wire running down his sleeve that Smith said appeared to be a detonation device.
“It does not appear this was a device capable of actual explosives but the appearance of it was to be an actual explosive type device,” Smith told reporters.
So far, officers do not have a motive, but Smith did say that the suspect arrived at Fox 45 with a flash drive containing something that he wanted the station to air on the news. Police have not yet determined the contents of the flash drive, as their main priority was public safety.
“The most important thing right now is not what’s on that flash drive. It’s the safety of the citizens and the people in this area,” Smith continued. “That is the most important thing right now. Once we’re able to say nothing is gonna blow up down there and the folks at Fox 45 are gonna be able to go back to work and nothing is gonna happen to them, then we’ll start trying to figure out what’s on the flash drive.”
As reporters learned of the situation, a few questioned the commissioner about his thoughts on the fact that Thursday’s bomb threat is the second high-profile incident at a news station in less than two years.
Last August, two reporters were shot live on-air in Roanake, Virgina.
“Public spaces and places where people get their news from and government agencies that serve our communities are occasionally vulnerable, if not always vulnerable,” Davis said. “I think it’s particularly important to train employees in all of our workplaces; like Fox 45 seems to have done, that when they’re in the midst of that critical event; that we have to act.
“In this day and age these events seem to happen more and more across our country. They seem to happen more and more in places like news stations, police stations, government facilities and school. It’s become all too common in America for us to gather like this to examine the bizarre, dangerous behavior of a singular individual. We’ll learn more about this man as time goes forward and, unfortunately, we’ll probably learn the same old, same old about him.” An investigation involving both the state’s attorney office and federal partners is underway.
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