BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (May 14, 2014, CNN) — A man who smashed a truck through the lobby of a Maryland TV news station and proclaimed himself God watched the ordeal play out on local news and tweeted while he was barricaded.
Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson told reporters that SWAT team officers closed in on the suspect as he was “watching different channels” in a station editing room — “watching you report this story as this incident unfolded.”
Aware that the suspect was watching on TV, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said, authorities decided against releasing any information publicly until after the incident.
But the 29-year-old suspect, described by police as mentally ill, gave a running commentary of the situation during the hours he was barricaded.
“chillin @ abc2 news waiting and yawning,” the suspect tweeted from CNN affiliate WMAR.
“can you all see me the days of the negative energies hurting you are OVER!” he added.
The station and a nearby school were evacuated. Johnson said tactical officers had to move slowly and cautiously because they were responding to an “active shooter” incident.
‘Ramming the building’
The first call from WMAR came in at 11:45 a.m., Baltimore County Public Safety said. There was a report of a disturbance, with a man banging on the door trying to get in
Within minutes, authorities said, there was another call about a truck crashing into the station lobby. Police said the suspect made “contact” with a security guard before making his way to the second-floor editing room.
“The individual was ranting and raving incoherent statements,” Johnson said. “It was clear from the very beginning that we were dealing with an emotionally disturbed subject.”
Mike Marion, a commercial production producer at WMAR, told CNN that he was in his office when he heard a loud sound.
“I heard someone rattling the door in a violent manner and screaming started: ‘Let me in, let me in, I’m (expletive) God. You have to let me in,'” Marion said.
“I saw a young … male in his 20s, no older than 30, blue oxford shirt with a black sling backpack, get into a large racing-green landscaping truck. He backed it out of (the) visitors’ space … began ramming the building … smashed through first section of atrium…The last thing I saw, the truck was fully in the lobby.”
Marion said he never saw the suspect get out of the truck. Police said the truck was stolen Tuesday from a subcontractor with the State Highway Administration.
Trying to report
All the while, WMAR journalists could relay information only via Twitter and the station’s website. By mid-afternoon, a makeshift newsroom had been set up about a mile north of the station — but the reporters still had no way to broadcast.
Inside the station, police found sheaths for machetes believed to have been used by workers in the highway truck. They also recovered a satchel with unknown contents. The suspect had a golf club but no firearms, police said.
A dog was used to subdue the suspect, who was taken for a psychiatric evaluation before facing criminal charges, police said.
The man was taken into custody without incident, and no one was seriously injured in the ordeal. The motive remains a mystery.