(Reuters) - A Maryland man accused of threatening Fox Television’s Baltimore affiliate while wearing a hedgehog suit and a fake bomb vest loaded with foil-wrapped chocolate bars has been charged with arson and other counts, authorities said on Friday.
The suspect, Alex Brizzi, 25, of Elkridge, Maryland, was shot and wounded by police after trying to deliver a flash drive with video about the end of the world during Thursday’s incident at the offices of WBFF-TV.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told a news conference that there was no connection to organized terrorism.
Even though the bomb was fake, “the fear of what he had shut down an entire community and scared a whole lot of people,” he said in announcing the charges.
Brizzi faces charges of second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning, both felonies. He also faces misdemeanor charges of arson threat, four counts of reckless endangerment and possessing a phony explosive device.
The suspect’s father, Ed Brizzi, told NBC’s WBAL-TV that his son had had problems with depression in recent years.
“About two weeks ago, Alex had some kind of a breakdown and came to us and said he had a vision from God and that he thought the world was going to end on June 3,” he said.
“I think that’s why he went to Fox, to try and warn all the people that the world was going to end on June 3.”
Brizzi set his car’s gas tank on fire in the WBFF parking lot. He then entered the building’s vestibule dressed in a hedgehog suit and a surgical mask, an outfit associated with Japanese anime culture, Davis said.
He also had strapped on a life preserver with chocolate bars wrapped in foil, wires and a motherboard taken from a smoke detector.
He asked that WBFF broadcast his message, and the station was evacuated.
Brizzi was shot three times when he emerged from the station vestibule and refused police orders to take a hand from his pockets. He kept his hand on a fake detonator despite police orders to take it away, Davis said.
He is in serious but stable condition at a hospital, police said.
Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman