(Updated) On May 13 in Towson. Md., a 28-year-old man described by police as mentally and emotionally disturbed, crashed a stolen pickup truck through the lobby doors of ABC 2, WMAR, a Baltimore TV station. Vladimir Baptiste barricaded himself inside the building which necessitated an evacuation of the TV studio, a lockdown at a nearby elementary school, and the closing of York Road, a main thoroughfare leading from Baltimore County into Baltimore City. ABC 2 was on and off the air at times during the police action, while WMAR broadcasters were forced to take to Twitter to tweet updates.
Baptiste first tried to gain entrance to the lobby of WMAR late yesterday morning, screaming to let him in, and that he was God. When a security guard wouldn’t let him in, he returned around noon to crash his way into the building with that stolen pickup truck, according to CNN. Reportedly, Baptiste smashed the truck into the building several times before successfully crashing through to the lobby. Police called to the scene searched the building for hours in an attempt to apprehend their suspect, who was located around 4:30 p.m. in a video editing bay watching all the police activity on television.
Competitive tendencies abated for at least a few hours: WMAR staffers who witnessed the crash gave interviews to the other stations, and WMAR's website streamed a simulcast of WJZ's live coverage. [WJZ is another Baltimore TV station.]
Even after police apprehended their suspect, WMAR personnel weren’t allowed back into the building until police completed their on-scene investigation. TV anchors who normally broadcast from the comfort of their studio were hand holding microphones in WMAR’s parking lot conducting live interviews. Following his arrest, Baptiste was transported to the Baltimore County Detention Center where he was being held on $750,000 bail.
Yahoo! News reported that no-one, including Baptiste, was injured as a result of all the commotion yesterday. Baptiste was charged today with three counts of second-degree attempted murder. According to Baltimore County police, he’ll also be looking at additional charges of “first-degree assault, third- and fourth-degree burglary, malicious destruction of property and theft.” At a press conference held yesterday in WMAR’s parking lot, Baltimore County Police Department Chief James Johnson described Baptiste as "ranting and raving and incoherent."
"From the beginning it was clear we were dealing with an emotionally disturbed subject," Johnson said.
Also speaking at the press conference yesterday was Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz who said that while still inside the station, Baptiste was “speaking in tongues,” according to CBS in Baltimore. See the video accompanying this article to catch Baptiste ramming that truck into WMAR.
Update: Baltimore County released the 911 calls reporting Baptiste crashing into WMAR. You can hear them here.