A man who’s the main suspect in planting a hoax bomb in a Queens mall has turned himself into the police.
The New York Times reports that New York City police received a 911 call around 7:30 a.m. on Monday of a car stopped in the middle of the circular ramp at the Queens Place Mall parking garage, where officers discovered a fuel canister with wires in the car’s trunk.
The mall was quickly evacuated, as fears grew that the vehicle—an allegedly stolen Tesla with Nevada plates—was a car bomb. By 11:30 a.m., authorities concluded that the assortment of cans and wires was not an explosive device.
“When you looked into the back of the car, you could see a tank—a gas tank—that had wires coming out of it,” John Miller, the deputy commissioner of the Police Department’s intelligence bureau, said at a news briefing on Monday. He also called the device a “hoax bomb” and said that it was left in the vehicle to cause panic.
Police officers had apparently run into Shenker and another man in the parking garage around 5 a.m. on Monday. The two men said that their car had broken down and they were going to find help getting it fixed. The officers left after the conversation but returned when receiving the 911 call. They also discovered a husky dog sitting in the back of the car, and that the car reportedly had pro-Black Lives Matter signage, perhaps aimed to slander the movement.
Officials then announced that they were looking for Louis Shenker, a 22-year-old right-wing conspiracy theorist in connection with the incident, as well as the second man he was with. Shenker later turned himself into the police around 3 a.m. on Tuesday. Shenker had been arrested twice last week for burning posters near Gracie Mansion in Manhattan, and was subsequently charged with misdemeanor counts of arson and criminal mischief. His next court date is set for March 3.
Shenker has been on police and federal agents’ radar since last year when he attacked Mayor Bill de Blasio on an Instagram account and for antagonizing officers and protesters at demonstrations against police violence. The 22-year-old is also known for his podcast titled The Minuteman, where he discusses his far-right views. Additionally, he’s warned that he’ll oversee a citizen’s arrest of de Blasio, and was planning a trip to Georgia to attempt to disturb the Senate runoff election on Tuesday.