Brizzi was carrying a flash drive with statements he wanted aired by the station when he approached a security guard who was able to discreetly alert police while engaging Brizzi in conversation, police said. The device with wires and a seeming detonator that Brizzi carried later was found to be a contraption fashioned from a life preserver, the motherboard of a smoke detector and wiring connected to candy bars that had been wrapped in tinfoil, police said.
After being mollified by the security guard, Brizzi left the building and was shot by police in the adjacent lot. A police robot was used to remove his clothes, and police determined the device was inert. Brizzi remains in serious but stable condition.
“It made for punchlines for people, but it was a serious situation for us,” T.J. Smith, communications director for Baltimore police, said at Friday’s press conference. Brizzi was shot at least three times in his extremities, police officials said, and three officers fired. As is customary, the officers are on leave while the shooting is under review.
Brizzi continued to approach police outside the vestibule after being ordered to stop and would not take his hand off what police said looked to be a detonating device after “many, many commands,” Davis said.
Davis said the incident did not appear to be connected to any organized terrorism. He also said police do not know whether Brizzi intended to harm others or himself or intended to have police shoot at him when he arrived at the station. The investigation continues and Davis said a mental evaluation of Brizzi is expected to take place.
Police said Brizzi went to Fox 45 with a flash drive that contained “rants” about the end of the world that he wanted to have broadcast. In interviews with local media, Brizzi’s father said his son did not have a history of mental health problems, but had recently gone through a “breakdown.”
“It took seven policemen to hold him down,” Edward Brizzi told WBFF. “… He says he don’t remember anything. He had just broke up with his girlfriend … it looks like he’s just had mentally a breakdown … what he was doing was probably putting himself there thinking that he wanted to die, I think.”
Jourael Apostolides, the security guard who spoke with Brizzi, said yesterday that Brizzi’s videotaped message was about the composition of the sun, and explained that the government was wrong in how it thought about “anything in space.” Apostolides said he spoke with Brizzi while clearing two other people from the lobby.
“My first thought was to get them out of there,” he said. “Then I tried to calm him down.” Apostolides said he offered Brizzi food, water and a seat, adding: “Everyone needs someone to talk to.”
Without naming Apostolides, Commissioner Davis praised his conduct, saying he would like to hire him.
“He alerted the staff of the situation and they simultaneously began evacuating the building,” Davis said. “… He’s absolutely a hero.”
Police said Brizzi will face two felonies — second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning — and misdemeanor counts of threat of arson, reckless endangerment, and possessing a fake destructive device.