Vehicle Rams Maryland TV Station; Driver Not Found
TOWSON, Md. (AP) — A truck rammed a Baltimore-area television station, leaving a gaping hole in the front of the building, and police said Tuesday afternoon that an armed person might be inside.
WMAR-TV News Director Kelly Groft told The Associated Press in a phone interview that the station believes everyone inside evacuated safely.
She said that when the truck began ramming the lobby around noon Tuesday, she screamed for everyone in the newsroom to get out.
"Once the lobby started to collapse, we knew it was time to get out," she said. "He drove right through the doors and into the main area."
Baltimore County police said 55 people evacuated but that they couldn't be sure everyone was out. Police said there may be an armed person inside, but there had not been any reports of shots fired. Police also said they knew of no motive.
"As far as I know everyone is safe," Baltimore County Police Department Cpl. Brian Kelly, standing near the scene, said.
A hole the size of several garage doors could be seen in the front of the building Tuesday afternoon. Police officers were on the scene, and news helicopters hovered above. A school next door was locked down.
Police received a 911 about 11:45 about a man banging on the door and trying to get into the news station, public safety spokeswoman Elise Armacost said. Within minutes, there was a second 911 call reporting that a vehicle had come into the newsroom.
Armacost called it large commercial vehicle. Officers didn't find the suspect in the vehicle, she said, and were still looking for weapons.
Police assume the person is dangerous because he ran a vehicle into an occupied building, she said.
Michael Marion, head of commercial production for the station, said that about 11:45 a.m., he heard from his office — right off the lobby — someone rattling violently against the security door. He said the person demanding to be let in and saying, "I am God, I am God."
Marion said he went to lobby, then an neighboring office, and looked out a window and saw a large vehicle trying to ram the building.
"I heard a series of crashes," he said outside the station Tuesday afternoon. "The next thing, I looked in the lobby, and the only thing between truck and the lobby was the final door. I heard one final crash. I looked through the door, and by then the truck was pulling in the lobby."
Marion said he didn't see anyone get out of the truck, and he and a co-worker moved into a lower portion of the building, where they found a fellow employee in an office who hadn't heard the crash. The group left through the back gate, Marion said.
"Everyone behaved really well," Marion said. "People of their own volition said, 'It's time to leave the building. No one panicked."
Groft said they did a headcount, though some people had hopped in cars and drove away. The station also warned employees out on stories not to return to the station.
Brian Kuebler, an investigative reporter at the ABC affiliate, said in a phone interview that he heard a commotion from his office and walked into the lobby in time to see the truck's last three rams.
"I never even saw him. I just saw the truck," Kuebler said. "That's when it started to get pretty real. This guy was intent on getting into the building. It was pretty frightening."
When police arrived, they moved everyone back, he said.
"We have the news to do and we're sitting in the parking lot," he said. "It's a little weird. I've never been the story in my career."