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Suspect in Custody After Truck Rams Into Md. TV Station

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Vladimir Baptiste, 28, of Parkville was charged with three counts of second-degree attempted murder. He is accused of slamming a stolen landscaping truck into a Baltimore-area TV station. (Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    The man accused of slamming a stolen truck into a Baltimore-area TV station has been charged with three counts of second-degree attempted murder.

    The suspect has been identified by police as Vladimir Baptiste, 28, of Parkville, Maryland.

    Suspect in Custody After Truck Rams ABC2 Station in Baltimore County

    [DC] Suspect in Custody After Truck Rams ABC2 Station in Baltimore County
    A man armed with a golf club and believed to be mentally ill is in custody after police say he rammed a stolen truck into a Baltimore TV station and then, claiming he was God, forced his way into the building, according to witnesses. News4's Jackie Bensen reports. (Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014)

    Online court records show Baptiste was also charged with three counts of first-degree assault, burglary and other offenses. Following a bail review hearing Wednesday, he is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

    Baptiste was taken into custody shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, after crashing through the entrance of the ABC2 (WMAR-TV) station in Towson, prompting a heavy police response and a five-hour search for the suspect.

    Standoff at Md. TV Station Ends With Suspect in Custody

    [DC] Standoff at Md. TV Station Ends With Suspect in Custody
    A 29-year-old man is in custody after police say he rammed a pickup truck through the front lobby of a Baltimore TV station and barricaded himself inside. (Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014)

    Police say Baptiste was found in an edit booth watching news coverage of the standoff on television and was armed with a golf club, although it is unclear if he brought the club into the building or found it there, said Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson.

    Baptiste was taken to a hospital for an evaluation.

    Standoff Ends at WMAR-TV

    [DC] Standoff Ends at WMAR-TV
    News4's Tisha Thompson recalls her experience as a former reporter at WMAR-TV and explains how everyone managed to get out of the building safely after man drove a truck into the building's front lobby. (Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014)

    No injuries were reported.

    Dispatch Calls About the TV Station Standoff

    [DC] Dispatch Calls About the TV Station Standoff
    News4's Wendy Rieger with some of the highlights from the police dispatch calls about the TV station standoff. (Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014)

    Around 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, police say Baptiste began banging on the door of the station in Towson, Baltimore County. He demanded to be let in while cursing and claiming that he was God, according to witnesses.

    "I heard a loud sound, rattling," said Michael Marion, a commercial producer at the station who has an office just off the lobby. "It sounded like someone had dropped something metal. Then I heard someone yelling 'Let me in, let me in'."

    Tweeting About the TV Station Standoff

    [DC] Tweeting About the TV Station Standoff
    ABC2 employees described the standoff at the station on Twitter as it unfolded. News4's Pat Lawson Muse reports. (Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014)

    "The individual was ranting and raving incoherent statements," Chief Johnson said. "It was clear from the very beginning we were dealing with a mentally or emotionally disturbed subject."

    When he was not allowed in, he got into a large truck — which was reportedly stolen from a Maryland landscaping company — and rammed it into the building at least three times, witnesses said. The truck hit a railing and the door, before ramming into the lobby.

    "And all of a sudden I see this truck, and I'm thinking, There is a truck trying to get through the front door," WMAR-TV anchor Jamie Costello said. "And that's when everybody started, 'Get out! Get out!'"

    News Director Kelly Groft rushed through the newsroom and helped evacuate the staff.

    "It was a controlled chaos," she said. "It was terrifying because someone was driving a truck through the vestibule, but everybody did exactly what they were supposed to do. We train for these things just like schools train for fire drills."

    After the evacuation, the intruder made his way to the second floor of the building.

    ABC2 meteorologist Mike Masco wrote on Twitter about 12:20 p.m. Tuesday that police found weapons in the vehicle.

    Two people who work in the building told News4's Tisha Thompson that they heard the crash and ran out the back doors to the parking lot.

    Marion described the man as a young black man with a light complexion, wearing a light blue oxford-style shirt and carrying a black satchel over his shoulder.

    After Baptiste was taken into custody, police said there was no threat to neighboring buildings, but during the standoff, a gas station directly across the street from the station was shut down, and the nearby St. Pius X School went on lockdown, with a large number of officers present. Students were released to parents later that afternoon.

    News Director Kelly Groft said on Twitter around 12:15 p.m. that the truck was lodged in the lobby, and employees were being kept away from the building. She thanked Baltimore County officers for keeping them safe.

    The truck driven into the building was stolen from a job site on Interstate 695 near the Towson area, according to a statement from Ashton Manor Environmental, a landscaping company. Jeff Schwartz, president of the company, said Ashton Manor is cooperating with police.

    During the incident. WMAR put a text story and photos on its website, but there was no video, the Associated Press reported. The site carried streaming video from another Baltimore station, WJZ. Employees posted updates on Twitter throughout the afternoon, and some were interviewed by other media.

    K.C. Robertson, a spokesman for WJZ, said Scripps reached out to his station, which gave WMAR permission to use WJZ's feed. “It was just a public service to all Baltimore viewers,” he said.

    WJZ worked with WMAR technicians to get the station back on the air. WMAR's transmitter is in WJZ's building, Robertson said. WMAR resumed broadcasting shortly after 5 p.m.

    Two sister stations sent about half a dozen people to help produce the news, said Carolyn Micheli, vice president of corporate communications for the E.W. Scripps Co., which owns WMAR-TV.

    Anchor Jamie Costello broadcast from outside the station Tuesday afternoon, and then -- once workers were allowed to return -- from inside. His broadcast showed the truck still in the lobby, crashed into a staircase. He did the standup broadcast for nearly two hours, as the station interrupted its regular programming.

    He interviewed his co-workers as they resumed their duties at their workstations.

    The station's 5 p.m. broadcast was remotely transmitted from Arizona, but employees were back in the studio in time for the 10 p.m. broadcast.

    Some damage to the station was fixed by Wednesday, Micheli said. The truck has been removed and a temporary door is being guarded by 24-hour security.

    Crews also fixed doors that had been broken in by SWAT teams, and removed rubber bullets embedded in walls.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.