WILDWOOD, N.J. — Police have arrested a New York City teenager after he allegedly pretended to light himself on fire in a crowded elevator of a Jersey Shore motel as part of a prank caught on camera, officials said.
The eight other elevator occupants — which included two 3-year-old children — told police they thought the teen had doused himself in real gasoline and that they were afraid for their lives, according to the Wildwood Police Department.
Police say that 19-year-old Austin Gaile performed the prank Sunday night at Wildwood’s Isle of Palms motel with the intention of posting a video of the witnesses’ reactions online.
Elevator occupants said the teen had poured a liquid — which turned out to be water — onto his body from a gasoline container and tried to ignite it with a lighter, police said.
Police charged Gaile with two counts of child endangerment and false public alarm. With the prank, police say Gaile falsely made people believe there was an emergency and incited public fear, which is illegal under state law.
Gaile was also charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, police said.
Bail for Gaile has been set at $90,000. As of Tuesday afternoon, Gaile’s bond had been posted and he was released from custody, according to the Cape May County Jail’s site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.