The NYPD’s Bomb Squad gave the Queens Place mall in Elmhurst the “all clear” after a scare led to several blocks being closed off and the mall being evacuated Monday morning.
At around 8 a.m. officers from the 110th Precinct responded to a Tesla parked on the ramp of the mall with a bottle of lighter fluid hooked up to wiring that went into the trunk, precinct commander Capt. Jonathan Cermeli told the Chronicle.
Officers could not see into the vehicle, which was covered by newspapers and a Black Lives Matter poster.
“We had the bomb squad come and go to the vehicle,” Cermeli said.
The mall was evacuated as a precaution. The NYPD announced shortly after 11 a.m. that it was a hoax device.
“It looks like it was a hoax meant to scare people but it was nothing that could have went off,” Cermeli said. “There was no explosive device.”
The NYPD tweeted that officers rescued a Siberian husky that was trapped inside the vehicle.
People began going back into the mall shortly before noon Monday, according to Cermeli.
Louis Shenker of Amherst, Mass., was arrested in Brooklyn early Tuesday and charged with placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in a mall or arena, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and abandonment of a disabled animal.
The New York Times said Shenker had been interviewed by the FBI in December due to threats he made while livestreaming during an anti-mask protest in Staten Island.
Shenker was arrested in late December for fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of fifth-degree arson for allegedly burning a poster affixed to an NYPD barricade, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He was arraigned Jan. 1 and the ADA recommended supervised release, which was granted by the judge. The charges in the case are not bail eligible.
Videos on Twitter show Shenker allegedly yelling at Black Lives Matter protesters and being placed in handcuffs in front of a BLM vigil.
NBC News reported that he appeared on the webcast InfoWars in December and pushed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, Covid and a plot to take over the world. He also pushed internet rumors about the Covid vaccine including a plot featuring the Chinese government, Bill Gates, George Soros, the Clintons and Dr. Anthony Fauci.