Pace University in Lower Manhattan was evacuated Thursday afternoon in what police later called a crime of fashion.
“There is no active shooter, there is no man with a gun, there were no shots fired, there is no one injured,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism John Miller said at a press conference.
Around 2:19 p.m., students called 911 after seeing what they thought was a man with “belt-fed ammunition, like what is used for a machine gun” under the stall door in a sixth floor bathroom, Miller said.
The university was immediately evacuated for a short time while officials searched the building.
Investigators encountered a male who was “observed wearing a belt that looked like it was made of bullets used for a machine gun,” Miller said, and the unidentified man confirmed he had been in the sixth floor bathroom around the time of the 911 call.
Miller said the man told officials he had worn the belt to the school before and it “was just a belt, a fashion statement — probably not a very good fashion statement,” he added.
Students were allowed back into the building about an hour after the incident, and police confiscated the belt to confirm it is not made of live bullets, but Miller doesn’t expect to discover “anything too sinister.”
“It turns out to be a happy, if not slightly awkward, ending for the individual wearing the belt,” Miller said. “We had well-meaning complainants who made legitimate observations and did the right thing by calling the police.”
When asked by a reporter if anyone has been charged, Miller joked that the department is “considering charging one individual with a fashion crime, but we’re conferring with the fashion prosecutor.”