New York City police discovered suspicious-looking devices — very much intended to look explosive — on a stolen Tesla outside a Queens shopping mall early Monday morning. In addition to a gas cannister and wires, there was a husky calmly sitting in the car.
The “bomb” was fake, and now the police have in custody a radical-right extremist wanted on several other charges in connection with the hoax.
Let’s get the important info out of the way right now: The dog is both adorable and doing fine.
The Tesla, with Nevada plates, was parked on the spiral ramp between two parking-deck levels at the Queens Place mall in the Elmhurst neighborhood of the city. The device was not in fact explosive, but wires and cans were used to make it look like the car was rigged to blow up. There was also a Black Lives Matter poster attached to the car. Three senior law enforcement officials told NBC they believed the signage was included in an attempt to discredit the movement.
It didn’t work, however. The police sought Louis Shenker, 22, a devoted radical-right conspiracy theorist well known to police — he was arrested for arson last week — who turned himself in around 3 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Times.
Shenker had been spotted roaming around the parking garage with another man around 5 a.m. Monday morning, the paper reported Police say Shenker told officers his car was broken down and that he was going to get assistance. Police later received a 911 call about the suspicious vehicle.
The NYPD called in the bomb squad, which caused nearby streets to be shut down and forced mall workers and shoppers outside in frigid January weather for more than two hours. Nearby businesses were also evacuated and traffic redirected around the mall, a reasonable action considering the recent Nashville bomb incident.
Shenker is a well-known pain in NYPD’s ass, according to NBC News:
Law enforcement officials say that police were already investigating Shenker and that they have arrested him twice in connection with other disruptive stunts. On Wednesday, he was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and two counts of low-level arson, accused of burning a poster affixed to a New York Police Department barricade, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Authorities said Shenker repeatedly engaged in a variety of similar stunts, including anti-mask actions, which he documented on Instagram.
Shenker appeared on an InfoWars online conspiracy webcast last month, when he pushed false conspiracy theories about the election, the coronavirus and a plot to take over the world. He implored “100,000 people at minimum to come to New York City” to protest a litany of causes outside Mayor Bill de Blasio’s residence, including the false conspiracy theory that “Donald John Trump is the rightful winner of this election.”
In another post, Shenker appears to have staged an incident in which his car was hit with red paint and with signs warning him to “be afraid.” The photo has a location attached corresponding with Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence.
The account also shows a recent post of an “Amtrak requires everyone to wear a face mask” sign burning, captioned, “It doesn’t get better than this!”
Clearly, we are dealing with a Very Smart Man™. So smart it took police exactly two seconds to see through his low-effort bullshit. Honestly, the unrest in the country over the last few days has been very worrisome, but it’s reassuring to remember that this is the best these guys can come up with.
At least the husky is OK.