Last week, 22-year-old Louis Shenker was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats after he and another person planted a fake bomb on top of a car inside the mall’s parking lot. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison, according to District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Just before 5 a.m. on January 4, Shenker and another suspect, a white man, were seen by a police officer standing next to a black Tesla with a Nevada loaner license plate. According to Katz, the car had both its front and rear hoods, as well as all four doors open.
The officer spotted the two suspects trying to charge the car with an electric bike. The Tesla had stalled on a ramp inside the parking garage.
More than two hours later, a Queens Place Mall employee noticed the car, which was covered in blankets and cardboard boxes. Inside of the vehicle was a dog, a Black Lives Matter sign and a gas tank with wires coming out. The employee called 911 to report the suspicious vehicle.
By then, according to reports, the two men had abandoned the vehicle.
When detectives arrived, they determined that no explosives were present, and that the car was designed as a hoax. Police had evacuated the mall, and cleared nearby streets and stores.
The next morning at 3 a.m., Shenker turned himself in to the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn. Police are still searching for the other suspect.
According to reports, Shenker, from Amherst, Massachusetts, is known as a right-wing provocateur who was previously arrested for confrontations with protesters last summer and for burning posters near Gracie Mansion. He also runs a podcast that airs his right-wing views.
In a statement, Katz said her office takes all potential threats seriously.
“Sadly, we live in a world where terror attacks are far too real,” she said. “Fake bombs and hoaxes of any kind create panic and fear.”