BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A man claiming to have a bomb strapped to his chest threatened a Baltimore TV station Thursday afternoon, and was later shot by police after walking out of the building.
At around 10:30 p.m. WJZ spoke with a man who identified the suspect as his son, 25-year-old Alex Brizzi. Brizzi is at the hospital receiving treatment, and is in serious condition but expected to survive.
The explosive device Brizzi claimed to have when he walked into the Fox 45 building in the Woodberry section of Baltimore around 1:20 p.m. Thursday was actually chocolate candy bars wrapped in wires, with another device meant to look like a detonator running down his sleeve.
A security guard with Fox 45 tells WJZ reporter George Solis that Brizzi walked into the station wearing a hedgehog onesie outfit and medical mask, claiming he had a bomb.
“He pretty much said he had a bomb on him and that he … had a message that he needed to be heard,” said the security guard.
The security guard said the man had a flash drive containing files that had to do with astronomy.
“It pretty much had to do with anything with astronomy … black holes, the sun, about it being liquid and gas, and he just wanted to say that the government was wrong in thinking about the way they do when it comes to anything in space,” said the guard.
Just after 3 p.m. the suspect walked out of the station, refusing to take his hands out of his pockets, according to Baltimore police.
Police spokesperson T.J. Smith says the suspect was then shot at least three times after refusing to cooperate. While on the ground after being shot, a police robot helped the department communicate with the man without getting too close to him, and helped them retrieve the item he had claimed was a bomb, which turned out to be a device made of candy bars, wires, a motherboard from a fire extinguisher and a flotation device.
No injuries besides Brizzi’s were reported in relation to the incident.
Just before 4:30 p.m. the suspect was taken away in an ambulance.
On Thursday night, the ATF searched the suspect’s home in Elkridge for hours.
Ed Brizzi told WJZ his son had recently changed his attitude, saying the world was going to end on June 3.
“We really didn’t see this coming. This happened so fast. It’s only been a couple of weeks. We were looking at him, trying to assess him, trying to figure out what to do. He’s 25 years old, so I can’t say ‘You’ve got to go into the hospital,'” said Brizzi.
Before news of the bomb threat broke, Fox 45 reporter Paul Gessler initially reported a fire in their parking lot.
Gessler live streamed the incident on Periscope which showed the vehicle’s gas tank on fire.
Police say that the fire is now being investigated as an arson.
“Outside of the building a vehicle was set on fire,” said Smith. “It appears to be arson related. There was a rag inside of the gas tank area of the vehicle. There was no type of explosion, no type of bomb detonated at any time.”
Just after 9 p.m. police secured the area and Fox 45 and 41st Street were reopened.
Police will be providing an update on Friday.
This isn’t the first time a person has threatened a Baltimore TV station.
In 2014, police say a mentally ill man claiming to be God rammed a stolen truck through the front lobby of ABC affiliate WMAR-TV.