A man wearing an animal onesie — possibly a panda or hedgehog — who claimed to be wearing a bomb to blow up a Baltimore TV station was shot and injured by police on 28 April. The man was hit at least three times by authorities, who discovered the bomb was actually chocolate candy bars wrapped in aluminum foil.
"When he walked out on the street he posed a threat to the community," said police spokesman TJ Smith, according to NBC News. "We were trying to get him to show us his hands." Smith said three officers shot at the 25-year-old suspect from the Baltimore suburbs and struck him three times. The man was in reportedly in serious but stable condition and is "expected to survive."
Smith did not identify the man but said he wore "a panda onesie type outfit" with a red flotation vest "with devices that look like explosives". He added that the chocolate explosive had "wires attached with a mother board" and additional wires "running down the sleeve of a jacket emulating a detonator."
NBC News reported that the incident began around 1.20pm EDT/6.20pm BST when the man entered the lobby of FOX-TV affiliate WBFF-TV and claimed he had information about a government cover-up on "black holes and the sun".
Security guard Jourel Apostolidies told WBFF-TV reporters that he prevented the suspect from reaching the newsroom and managed to both call 911 and alert his colleagues to evacuate. "My first thought was to get him out," Apostolidies said. "My first instinct was to make sure he keeps his cool head."
The security guard added to CNN: "At first I thought it was a joke. I mean, he was wearing a hedgehog onesie. So I didn't really think it was serious, but then he kept on saying he didn't want to hurt anyone and ... I told him that I understood that and, if he wanted to sit tight, I would try to help him out."
WBFF News Director Mike Tomko told reporters he also spoke to the suspect. "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," Tomko added. "I told him, 'I can't let you in, you're going to have to leave the flash drive here and slide it though the opening.' He wouldn't do that. Apparently he had made some threats before."
Smith said a SWAT team soon arrived and began negotiating with the man, who had by then barricaded himself inside. When he came out just after 3pm, he was met by police, who demanded he take his hands out of his pockets, WJZ13 reported. After he refused, he was shot.
No additional injuries were reported during the incident.