Man in panda suit shot after alleged bomb threat at Baltimore Fox affiliate

(Reuters) - A man wearing a white panda suit who allegedly made a bomb threat at Fox Television’s Baltimore affiliate on Thursday was shot and wounded by police outside the building, authorities said.

Three Baltimore police officers opened fire on the man as he emerged from WBFF and ignored police orders to take his hands out of his pockets, police spokesman T.J. Smith told a news conference. The suspect was in serious but stable condition at a hospital.

Smith said the man had “displayed something that appeared to be wires and some other things inside his jacket that appeared to be some kind of explosive device.” The device turned out to be composed of harmless materials, including chocolate candy bars wrapped in tin foil, he said.

WBFF reported on its website that the suspect, described by police as a 25-year-old man from Howard County, Maryland, broke into the station demanding that it cover a story about an unspecified government conspiracy. The station said the suspect made a bomb threat during the incident.

WBFF, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group SBGI.O, said a bomb robot scanned the man for nearly an hour before officers removed his clothing, picked him up and carried him to an armored police vehicle.

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Station News Director Mike Tomko said on the station’s website that the man was wearing a white, one-piece panda suit with a 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 said, referring to a massive leak of offshore financial data. “Apparently he had made some threats before.”

A brief video on the station’s website showed the man walking out of the station. No police or station employees were injured.

The station said it evacuated the building after the bomb threat and a car fire outside. It said firefighters put out a fire in the gas tank of the car, which authorities said was associated with the suspect, in the station’s parking lot.

Authorities have not determined a motive for the suspect’s behavior and said he was not cooperating with the police investigation.

Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney