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Truck rams TV station; Suspect arrested by SWAT

Posted at 12:29 PM, May 13, 2014

Baltimore County police apprehended a man who crashed into the WMAR-TV news station building after stealing a truck and barricading himself in a second floor editing room, officials confirmed. 

The suspect stole an truck from a State Highway Administration subcontractor at about noon, police said. Police also recovered several machetes, believed to belong to the workers from whom he stole the truck.

According to witnesses, the man repeatedly tried to get inside the WMAR-TV building. ABC2 News investigative reporter Brian Kuebler tweeted " suspect tried to get in building screaming LET ME IN and said he was God."


Surveillance video showed the man rammed the lobby of the WMAR-TV news station several times as a security guard began to usher employees from the building. There were no injuries of either WMAR employees or responding officers.

Michael Marion, a production manager at ABC2 News saw the man crash through the lobby doors. 

“I was looking at the truck hoping to get a license plate when he then made a sharp right hand turn into the alcove and proceeded to first ram the building closest to York Road, appeared to get hung up on the metal railing," Marion said. “He had smashed through the first section and then all that was between truck and him was the main door, heard another smash and the last thing I saw was the truck fully in the lobby.” 

ABC2 reporter Christian Schaffer posted this video to Vine of surveillance footage of the truck: 

The York Road building was evacuated, and nearby St. Pius X School was placed under lockdown. The 6400 block of York Road was closed for at least five hours Tuesday. 

WMAR-TV news director Kelly Groft said all employees were safe and accounted for. One newly-hired station employee had to be escorted out of the building by tactical officers after sheltering in place for several hours.

Nic Hall, desktop support specialist, was trapped in his basement office for at least three hours communicating with tactical officers searching the building. 

"I had no idea what was going on," Hall said, until he received a phone call from a colleague checking in on him. 

"I've been to war so I was pretty calm and collected," Hall, a U.S. Marine Corps reservist, said. Hall said he was collected and escorted out of the building by a team of six officers between Baltimore County and Baltimore City. 

Police believe the man suffered from a mental illness. Officials said he was ranting and raving incoherent statements as tactical teams managed to isolate the suspect in a second floor editing room. He was arrested without incident, Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said. 

Police believe the man is 29 years old, but did not release his identity at a press conference with reporters at about 5 p.m. 

The suspect made "some sort of contact" with the security guard who began to evacuate the building, Johnson said. 

On Oct. 15, 1980, WCPO in Cincinnati, Ohio and most of its news staff were held hostage by a man armed with a 9mm J&R M68 semi-automatic rifle and five revolvers. WCPO is the flagship station of the E.W. Scripps Company, which owns WMAR-TV.

James Hoskins seized control of WCPO's newsroom and held reporter Elaine Green and her cameraman at gunpoint in the parking lot of WCPO's studios. He then forced his way into the newsroom and took seven more hostages.

Hoskins later shot and killed himself while on the phone with SWAT negotiators.

The incident in Towson Tuesday conjured memories of a hostage situation at a Phoenix newsroom on May 28, 1982. WATCH: WMAR barricade a reminder of Phoenix TV hostages

WMAR-TV founded in 1947, was the first television news station in Maryland, and the 11th in the country. 

Although it was an afterthought by the station's management to safety, the station's wrecked lobby featured a number of television artifacts on display -- none of which were damaged by the green truck. 



Dump truck rams Baltimore TV station, reporting goes on (Newsy)

Parents pick up St. Pius X students

VIDEO: WMAR TV weather anchor describes station barricade