Mentally ill man rams truck into TV station

Towson, Maryland (WJZ) -- Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz says a mentally ill man who jumped into an unattended truck and then rammed it into the WMAR-TV building on York Road has been taken into custody.

WJZ's Mike Hellgren reports the 29-year-old suspect was not armed.

Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson says is is clear that the suspect is suffering from mental and emotional health issues.

The vehicle used was stolen around noon and belongs to Ashton Manor, a State Highway Administration subcontractor.

The company released the following statement:

"An Ashton Manor Environmental work vehicle was stolen from a job site located on 695 east, near exit 26. It is our understanding the vehicle was then involved in an incident at WMAR-TV in Towson. We are thankful that none of our employees were injured when the vehicle was stolen. We are cooperating with the police an the ongoing investigation."

Baltimore County Police spokesperson Elise Armacost says 55 people evacuated the building after it was rammed. Police initially said some employees may have sheltered in place, but WMAR's news director Kelly Groft now says everyone is accounted for. She says when the truck began ramming the lobby, she screamed for everyone in the newsroom to leave. WMAR did, however, report via Twitter that one employee had to be taken out of the building by tactical officers after sheltering in place.

Police cannot speculate on a motive, and the investigation is still active.

A SWAT team surrounded the building and expanded the perimeter. Robots and dogs were used in the investigation. When officers arrived, the suspect was not inside the vehicle. Police formed what they are calling a "tactical barrier situation."

Reporters at WMAR say the lobby is "smashed up."

The first call came in at around 11:45 a.m. as a disturbance. The suspect was banging on the door trying to get in. Employees say the man referred to himself as "God."

Within minutes, police received a second call for a truck in lobby. Police say the building was rammed several times.

People are being urged to stay away from the building, which has been evacuated.

WMAR anchor Jamie Costello told WJZ's Derek Valcourt, "I could see glass, the whole wall was going through. Then I could see the beginning of the truck. Everybody was in utter disbelief of what was going on right there at that second. I don't know how in the world we got away with nobody getting hurt. I really don't. Because that lobby is packed all the time…..We were attacked."

Masco also reported that police found weapons in his vehicle.

The incident occurred in Towson, Md., an unincorporated community in Baltimore County next to the city of Baltimore.

St. Pius X school is nearby and was put on lockdown. Deputies assisted in the safe dismissal of all students.

Parents are watching and waiting. One told WJZ, "It's a nightmare."

Several WMAR employees have been taken to a nearby hotel to regroup and work.


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